The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced that specialist clinicians will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products by the autumn.
In response to the announcement, Dr Mike Linney, Registrar and Chair of the Ethics Committee for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:
“Cannabis-derived medicinal products have been shown to improve the quality of life for some children suffering with conditions such as severe epilepsy. This decision will come as a relief for these families, as it grants hope for other potential life enhancing treatment options.
"Now a decision has been made that cannabis-derived medicinal products will be made available on prescription, we look forward to hearing more from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who will now develop a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product. However, in the meantime, I must stress the importance of parents not giving children unlicensed cannabinoid oil products. There is currently no clear evidence to suggest that they are safe or effective in treating medical conditions, and there is a serious risk that they will interfere with prescribed medications that the child is taking.
"In addition, this ruling will potentially allow further much needed research into the benefits and side effects of cannabis-derived medicinal products.”
The Home Secretary decided to reschedule these products after receiving advice from experts during the two-part review he commissioned on 19 June. It means that senior clinicians will be able to prescribe the medicines to patients with an exceptional clinical need.
While the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) develop a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product, clinicians will still be able to apply to the independent expert panel on behalf of patients wishing to access these products.