In the UK today, we sit behind an emerging trend. Globally, there is a clear direction in terms of access to medical cannabis therapies, and how this access is being paid for.
The latest analysis from the German healthcare market provides a clear demonstration of this. Since making medical cannabis available, insurance providers have increasingly lifted the burden on patients in supporting their prescriptions.
While clearly a positive development, this increasing support is in distinct contrast with the situation in the UK. Despite doctors being able to prescribe medical cannabis since late 2018, patients are still being forced to take measures they shouldn’t have to take in order to get treatments.
These measures have ranged from crowdfunding large sums of money to pay for private prescriptions, or to fund trips to other healthcare markets where access is improved, but in doing so exposes these individuals to the liability of illegally importing their medicine.
Some patients are resorting to growing their own products with tacit but uncertain permission from local constabularies, while many have resolved to falling back upon unregulated black market products.
None of this should be the case, however indications from Government in the UK have not been wildly encouraging with regards to improving the situation. The latest Health and Social Care Committee report on access to medical cannabis returned a set of cautious principles that, like many reports recently, in essence defer to the upcoming guidelines from NICE.
While calls for further evidence and education are commendable, they do somewhat ignore the global picture. Evolved healthcare markets such as Germany, the USA, Canada, Israel, Australia and beyond have moved and are moving far more assertively, and within these markets exists a collective body of evidence and experienced practice that should better and more expediently enable access in the UK.
The interest is simple, and critical. Within only the example of treating childhood epilepsy we see striking results over a host of previously used and often ineffective antiseizure medications. Where there is a satisfactory basis for clinical efficacy, combined with an acceptable risk/benefit profile, treatments should be available.
Improving access to education in cannabis-based medicines for doctors in the UK is a great priority. Patients across the world are receiving successful treatments for a number of conditions and it’s time we started catching up.
The Academy of Medical Cannabis provides this platform. Offering an evidence, research and clinical practice-based education in cannabis medicines, our courses can provide doctors with the knowledge and confidence required to prescribe. For more information use our online courses, evidence base and white papers.