Review finds medical benefits of cannabis-based drugs

The use of medical cannabis in the UK has moved a step closer, after the home secretary asked for advice following a review that concluded that there is evidence of therapeutic benefit.

Sajid Javid has asked for advice on the matter in a second part of an independent review into cannabis-related medicinal products.

A recently published report by Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical office and chief medical advisor to the UK government, examined existing research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis-related products.

This report was the first part of government review announced at the end of June, bringing “conclusive evidence of medicinal benefit of cannabis-based products for certain medical conditions”.

Cannabis related products are currently classified in the UK among Schedule 1 drugs, which have little or no therapeutic potential.

Javid commissioned the second part of an independent review which might help removing cannabinoid medicines from Schedule 1 and therefore speed up their potential approval in England and allow doctors to prescribe it under strictly controlled conditions.

Individual prescription applications from senior clinicians will be reviewed by an expert panel, chaired by Michael McBride, chief medical officer for Northern Ireland.

Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that we needed to take a fresh look at the scheduling of cannabis-related medicinal products”.

“I would like to thank the chief medical advisor for her initial review and have now asked my independent advisory committee to commence the second stage of this process.”

The second part of the review will be completed by Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and could be finalised within the next three weeks.

The government has no plans to legalise cannabis. Recreational use of cannabis will remain illegal and the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged.

British based biotech GW Pharmaceuticals is the leader on cannabinoid market. Just a few days ago FDA has approved their Epidiolex for treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) or Dravet Syndrome in patients two years of age or older.

Epidiolex (cannabidiol) is specially formulated to bring a medical benefit without the “high” associated with recreational marijuana.

European regulators are reviewing the drug following a filing in February.

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