One Year On: Access to medical cannabis for patients in Scotland

The 22nd March 2022 marks the one year anniversary of the opening of Scotland’s first and only medical cannabis clinic – Sapphire Medical Clinics. Based in Stirling (but seeing patients remotely across Scotland), this landmark treatment centre has helped over a thousand patients in the first year of operation.

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018 which has allowed cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) to be prescribed by medical experts if licensed treatments have been tried without providing adequate symptom relief. Within this framework approved by relevant regulatory authorities, Sapphire Medical’s aim is to enable safe access to medical cannabis. GPs can refer patients or patients can self-refer themselves directly to Sapphire Medical.

Patients across Scotland have accessed medical cannabis for treatment resistant conditions including chronic pain, insomnia, generalised anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia.

Recently the Clinic became the first medical cannabis clinic in Scotland to receive a ‘Good’ rating from Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Sapphire Medical was praised for its “patient-centred and proactive approach” and “systems to support good clinical governance”.

Dr Mikael Sodergren, Managing Director of Sapphire Medical Clinics explains the process after a patient has their first appointment, “Once the patient has been seen by a specialist, their needs are discussed at a multi-disciplinary meeting with a range of experts, including specialists from psychiatry and neurology, to decide whether medical cannabis is appropriate for each patient”

“If it is decided the patient is a good candidate for medical cannabis, a management plan is personalised to their specific health needs . A prescription is then sent to a specialist pharmacy, who then send the medication directly to the patient’s home.”

Dr Sodergren, continues, “As Scotland’s only Healthcare Improvement Scotland registered medical cannabis clinic, we have received over 3,000 referrals for our service across Scotland and we have over 1,000 active Scottish patients on the Sapphire Access Scheme. The Sapphire Access Scheme allows patients to benefit from significantly cheaper appointment costs as they contribute to our Real World Evidence platform.”

In fact, 93% of patients are on the Sapphire Access Scheme’ benefiting from this subsidised programme, paying only £50 per appointment with a highly experienced medical professional. On average a chronic pain patient would pay £135 a month inclusive of appointments and medication. Through this progressive scheme, patients are regularly monitored and take part in providing Real-World Evidence about changes to their health-related outcomes.

An analysis on Scottish patients from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, the largest bespoke registry of outcomes for patients prescribed medical cannabis in the UK, has recently been submitted for presentation at the 31st Annual International Cannabinoid Research Society Conference (ICRS 2022).

The average age of patients enrolled on the Registry is 43 years old. Over half (54%) of patients identify as male. The most common conditions for which patients are receiving treatment are chronic non-cancer pain (36%), fibromyalgia (11%), anxiety (10%), and neuropathic pain (7%). The main findings from this study were that at up to 6 months Scottish patients experienced significant improvements in health-related quality of life, anxiety, and sleep quality.

Find out if you are eligible today: https://www.sapphireclinics.com/eligibility-assessment/