Drugs policy: medicinal cannabis Contents

List of recommendations

Public opinion and communications

1.The Home Office, Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England should consult relevant patient and professional organisations and form a communications plan to relay clear information to patients and the wider public about the availability of CBPMs and the need for further research. (Paragraph 23)

Current evidence base

2.We call on the National Institute for Health Research to engage fully with parents and clinicians [who have argued for observational trials] to discuss their proposal and explore all ways to improve the evidence base. (Paragraph 50)

3.The Department of Health and Social Care should investigate those instances where pharmaceutical companies do not provide their medicinal cannabis product for research and take appropriate action where necessary. The Department should not be afraid to ‘name and shame’ companies who are not doing all they can to make their products available for research. The Department should also set out a plan to encourage industry to take a more active role in research itself and should present this plan in response to this report. (Paragraph 67)

4.We welcome the broad call for research proposals into medicinal cannabis products by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). The Department of Health and Social Care and the NIHR should encourage and focus research into those specific conditions where the Chief Medical Officer’s report found good evidence for the use of cannabis based medicinal products. (Paragraph 68)

5.The National Institute of Health Research should make resources immediately available for a programme of clinical trials for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. This will allow many more patients to access treatments in specialist centres. These trials should be facilitated as a matter of urgency. Families of children suffering from these distressing and life-threatening conditions should not have to travel abroad to seek treatment, but we will fail future patients if we do not establish the evidence base for the place of medicinal cannabis in treatment. (Paragraph 69)

6.The Department of Health and Social Care should set out in its response to this report how it will work with research organisations here in the UK and internationally to ensure that research is being co-ordinated and encouraged in the most appropriate areas. Government should also set out how it will ensure that the future of European multi-centre clinical trials and the post marketing surveillance that protects patient safety are not put at risk by Brexit. (Paragraph 70)

7.The Department of Health and Social Care should look at how medicinal cannabis is made available to patients in other EU member states such as the Netherlands and see whether lessons might be learnt which could be helpful. (Paragraph 71)

Current guidance and education

8.The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) should take account of patient voices in its creation of guidelines for medicinal cannabis by allowing patient groups the opportunity to comment on the draft guidelines and receive a response to those comments from NICE. (Paragraph 91)

9.We welcome the e-learning modules being prepared by Health Education England (HEE). HEE should keep the e-learning modules under review and ensure that they take feedback from clinicians and relevant organisations on their impact and make sure that clinicians are aware of the modules. (Paragraph 92)

10.We recommend that the Department of Health and Social Care should take steps to secure long-term international deals to ensure a consistent supply of CBPMs so as to ensure that patients are not delayed in receiving their prescriptions and the cost of the medicinal cannabis products are kept as low as possible. Baroness Blackwood has indicated that the Department is working with industry on establishing supply. We welcome this work and further recommend that the Department work with other governments, devolved and abroad, to make a more collaborative and attractive deal for industry. We expect to hear from the Department what success it has had in this area by the beginning of 2020. (Paragraph 93)

11.NHS England should encourage providers to make their prescribing structures known and transparent to ensure that clinicians are aware of the possible barriers they face and how to tackle them. We recommend that following its process review, NHS England should issue targeted guidance to practitioners and pharmacists explaining the procedure for prescribing and supplying cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans. (Paragraph 94)

Published: 3 July 2019