Campaigners leading push for epilepsy trial in prescription cannabis

News
11 May 2021

Campaigners have engaged the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to establish a trial to prove that medicinal cannabis is an effective treatment for epilepsy and ought to be prescribed for free on the NHS.

Led by Charlotte Caldwell, whose son has now been seizure-free for one year as a result of medicinal cannabis to treat his epilepsy, the campaigners are pushing for the treatment to be freely available to those prescribed it.

At present, NICE has authorised two cannabis-based medicinal products for use on severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy. However, the guidelines do not approve the treatment for population-wide practice, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) stating that 'there was insufficient evidence of safety and effectiveness to support… a recommendation relating to the whole population of people with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.'

NICE issued a follow-up statement to the initial guidance this March, clarifying that healthcare practitioners may choose to prescribe these treatments for their patients with epilepsy. These prescriptions must be funded by the patient, though, which is presenting a significant barrier to many.

The campaigners hope to ensure a trial which can gather enough evidence, in line with NICE's requirements, to demonstrate the benefit of freely prescribing cannabis-based treatments to all people with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

A clinic has offered to run a controlled trial on a not-for-profit basis which can meet these specifications if the NHIR are able to fund the trial itself.

The full story is available via the Telegraph.

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