August 2019

The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society responses to:

Draft NICE guidelines into Cannabis-based medicinal products

Reviewing the guidelines, Prof Mike Barnes, leading medical cannabis expert and Chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society said,

“The draft guidelines produced today by NICE are very disappointing but sadly predictable. Many NICE committee members had already expressed negative views about cannabis as a medicine, and those with positive views were excluded from the process.

It is a pity the Committee does not understand the nature of the family of medical cannabis medicines and failed to take into account alternative, valid sources of evidence. It relies solely on the pharmaceutical model of the randomised controlled trials which is not an appropriate methodology for the assessment of cannabis efficacy.

This is a sad day for many tens of thousands of people in the UK who are benefitting from, or who would benefit from wider availability of cannabis medicine.”

Dani Gordon, Vice-Chair Canadian medical doctor specializing in cannabis medicine, now based in the UK said, 

“These guidelines are very disappointing as they do not reflect what we see clinically treating patients with chronic pain conditions. It also fails to recognise that this is a quality of life medication, hugely beneficial for helping improve people’s level of functioning who are dealing with chronic serious medical conditions which have no cure and even best drug therapy often fails to improve quality of life in any measurable way.

The guidelines are also unnecessarily restrictive in terms of the types of conditions where medical cannabis might be prescribed such as for complex symptom clusters including pain and anxiety.  These complex symptom clusters and use of cannabis-based medicines in the real world practice of medicine and their efficacy cannot be adequately measured in a randomised controlled trial environment.

They fly in the face of the incredible results I have seen in symptom management and quality of life using cannabis based medicinal products to treat thousands of patients in my Canadian physician-referral medical practice and do a real disservice to patient-centred care.”

Hannah Deacon, Executive Director and Patient Advocate, whose son, Alfie Dingley was the first patient in the UK to receive a permanent cannabis licence and is now only one of two patients with an NHS prescription, said;

“I’m extremely disappointed. There are hundreds of thousands of people using cannabis-based medicines across the world and it’s having an enormously positive impact on their health. Many countries have legalised medical cannabis industries – America, Canada and other G7 countries – they see the evidence is good enough. The UK is insisting on reinventing the wheel for no reason – and the people who are suffering are patients.

In the UK, I’m supporting 20 families who are trying to secure prescriptions for their children and over half have now had private prescriptions – what’s the provision for them? They can’t afford to continue paying over £1000 a month or travelling to Europe to illegally access this medicine. There is no empathy at all in these guidelines – they will force people to criminalise themselves and it’s making vulnerable people more vulnerable.”

Barriers to access NHS review:

Prof Barnes said:

“This is a positive review that recognises the need for accepting different but valid evidence for the efficacy of cannabis as a medicine.

It’s sad to compare this forward-looking and positive review of cannabis medicine by the NHS with sadly outdated draft Nice guidelines into Cannabis-based medicinal products also released today.  Nice has surely reached its sell-by date.

I hope that Matt Hancock takes advice from his own review and rejects the outmoded and outdated draft Nice guidelines.”

Hannah Deacon said;

“I find it shocking that on the day the Nice guidance is released – which is extremely restrictive and recommends against prescriptions unless randomised controlled trials take place – that the NHS review commissioned by Matt Hancock completely contradicts this guidance.

This NHS review recognises that there is a blockage on prescriptions and makes some good recommendations of how the NHS can improve access for families such as mine.

The contrast between these two very important publications is very worrying. There is no joined-up thinking and in the middle of all this mess there are vulnerable families with very sick children who are being left to suffer.”

END

  1. The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society believes that everyone who could benefit from medical cannabis should have access to it. Our mission is to give clinicians access to evidence, training, expert guidance, peer support and licensed product information so they can prescribe life-changing medical cannabis treatments to all patients in the UK. The Society is an expert-led, independent, not-for-profit community, dedicated to bringing this safe, legal and effective medicine to people living with chronic conditions.
  2. Visit ukmccs.org for more information.
  3. For further comment or response, please contact Kate Thorpe on 07890172128 or email [email protected].