The House of Commons Health Select Committee published its report today (3 July 2019) on medicinal cannabis. The report is the outcome of the committee’s enquiry following the change in the law in November 2018 that allowed cannabis based products for medicinal use in humans (CBPMs) to be prescribed without the need for a Home Office controlled drugs licence.
The report notes that while the change in the law was welcomed by many, a lack of communication has led to many people who expected CBPMs to become more widely available being left disappointed. Very few prescriptions have been issued since November and the report notes that most CBPMs are not licensed medicines and have not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The report calls for clearer communication about the limited availability of CBMPs and is supportive of the need for robust research into the benefits of CBMPs, in the form of randomised double blind controlled trials.
The report lays down a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry to be more involved in developing medicinal cannabis products and supplying products for research, and calls on the government to support the research community and industry and for research to be focused on efforts in areas where there is the greatest patient need (such as children with epilepsy); and to learn from international best practice.
The report will make important reading for all those with an interest in the sector – from patients, doctors and industry. We expect that further insight into the views of clinicians and the state of research into the efficacy of CBMPs will come with the NICE guidance expected in October 2019.