The advisors in charge of giving new NHS treatments the Yes or the No have decided in favour of two cannabis-based treatments for the first time, opening the doors to easy access to the formerly controversial medicines in England.
The two drugs are mainly to be used for treating epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; conditions that self-prescribers and medicators have been successfully DIY treating with under-the-counter or over-the-border cannabis products for years.
The new NICE guidelines say the medicines based on the delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol and marketed as Sativex or under the generic term nabilone may also be issued to patients suffering chemotherapy-induced nausea, although treatment-resistant epilepsy and some of the more extreme multiple sclerosis cases are the main anticipated use area.
One of the drugs is based on cannabidiol – and branded Epidyolex – and solely targets the heartbreaking cases of debilitating epilepsy in children.
Obviously the psychoactive elements of the drug are not present in these commercial products, while the cost of Epidyolex – which previously ruled it out from being made available on the NHS – has been reduced by manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals to help swing its move into potentially wider distribution.