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05 Dec 2021

‘Medicinal cannabis should be freely available to all those that need it’

UK-wide drugs trial aiming to provide the largest body of evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis for various conditions

‘Medicinal cannabis should be freely available to all those that need it’

A UK-wide drugs trial is set to commence which aims to provide the largest body of evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis for various conditions.
Last month, independent body, Drug Science, launched project Twenty21 which will enrol 20,000 patients by the end of 2021, creating the largest body of evidence for the efficacy of medical cannabis.
It aims to convince policy makers that medical cannabis should be as widely available, and affordable, as other approved medicines for patients who would benefit from them.
They are examining the benefits of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of patients with the following conditions: Anxiety Disorder, Chronic Pain, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Substance Use Disorder (as a harm reduction strategy)
and Tourette’s Syndrome.
It also seeks to support prescribers across the country to feel confident in providing medical cannabis to such patients, and make a powerful case for NHS funding, by proving the favourable risk/benefit ratio of medical cannabis in seven key identified conditions.
Drug Science believes that medicinal cannabis should be freely available to all those that need it through the NHS. That is why it started Project Twenty21, to provide evidence of the plausibility and cost-effectiveness of medical cannabis.
A spokesperson explained: “At this moment in time, the NHS tell us that they are ill-equipped to prescribe medicinal cannabis as there is "a lack of evidence".
Project Twenty21 aims to audit cases where medical cannabis has been prescribed initially in the private sector, in order to gather real-world data and build an evidence base.
“We believe that this will be enough to provide the evidence that the regulatory bodies have indicated they need.
“Health outcome measures will be recorded into the registry every 3 months for patients continuing on medical cannabis prescriptions.
“This evidence aims to inform NICE guidelines and also acquire significantly novel cost-effectiveness data to determine if the NHS will pay for conditions where the benefit/risk profile is favourable will save the NHS money.”
It understands that a lot of patients that need this medication will not be able to afford a private prescription.
However, through Twenty21, patients will be expected to pay a subsidised fee for their prescription. Industry partners will provide subsidised products to facilitate this to allow it to be capped initially at £150/month.
They say it is “substantially lower” than many patients are currently paying.
“On average, private UK cannabis prescriptions cost between £800-£4000 a month.
“The private clinics will charge their own fees for consultations and there may also be a cost associated with re-issuing a prescription. It may be worth enquiring into these costs with providers before attending an appointment.
“There will also be the option for up to 1,000 fully subsidised treatments for those who cannot afford to pay the subsidised costs. We are in the process of deciding exactly how patients who qualify for this category will be determined.”
For more information visit: www.drugscience.org.uk/project-twenty21/

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