Reaction to Draft NICE Medical Cannabis Guidelines

Clinicians at Sapphire Medical Clinic, the UK’s first clinic offering consultations for all conditions believed to benefit from medical cannabis have welcomed the draft NICE guidelines on the prescribing of medical cannabis published today. The guidelines cover intractable nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy, chronic pain, spasticity, and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy. The development of this guidance follows the re-classification of cannabis-based products last year to allow specialist doctors to prescribe them in cases they judge to be clinically appropriate. The law changed on the 1st of November 2018 following high-profile cases which demonstrated the efficacy of cannabis as a medicine in certain cases. Medical cannabis was re-scheduled, making it available under prescription from GMC Registered Specialists in the UK.

Commenting, Dr Michael Platt MA MBBS FRCA FFPMRCA, Medical Director of Sapphire said:

“We welcome the NICE draft guidelines. They are sensible, reasonable and set out clearly what steps we can and must take to seamlessly integrate medical cannabis into the patient treatment pathway. Our internal Sapphire Medical Clinic operating procedures are absolutely in line with the NICE draft. As Medical Director and Consultant Pain Specialist at Sapphire I am encouraged that NICE have acknowledged the evidence supporting efficacy of medical cannabis in chronic pain. I am hopeful that the data generated at Sapphire on this and other conditions will help support the next stage of the review and NICE cost-effectiveness analysis to potentially allow access to medicinal cannabis for these patients on the NHS”

“We are particularly pleased that the draft NICE guidelines acknowledge the importance of decision-making through a multi-disciplinary team, as set up in Sapphire. All patients referred by GPs to Sapphire are discussed at the central multidisciplinary team involving all the clinicians. Because Sapphire is the only clinic in the UK to offer access to cannabis-based products across all conditions where there is evidence for efficacy in managing symptoms, patients and GPs can be assured that they are receiving the best possible care”.

The NICE guidelines also recommend that more research should be carried out in order to build a more robust evidence base for the use of cannabis-based products.

Dr Mikael Sodergren MBChB, DIC, PhD, FRCS, Managing Director and Academic Lead at Sapphire Medical Clinics said:

“As clinicians, we understand the need for valid and robust evidence when making decisions on what the best course of care is for each individual patient we treat. Our patient registry ensures that cannabis-based medicinal products prescribing is developed in a responsible way as patient numbers increase, by capturing essential data including efficacy metrics, adverse events and patient-reported outcome measures using validated methodologies.

“The anonymised data will be made available on request to the medical community for analysis and will greatly contribute to the body of clinical evidence whilst we await randomised clinical trials. It will provide an invaluable resource to guide health policy for the NHS and other health systems.

Ultimately, these draft guidelines have confirmed that the medical world needs more evidence about the efficacy of medicinal cannabis and our national registry will be a major contribution to meet that need. It will be the first to have meaningful and consistent data of how medicinal cannabis has helped when properly prescribed as part of a full treatment pathway”.

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