Wales to make MS ‘cannabis’ drug available on the NHS

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Health officials have confirmed that a ‘cannabis’ drug will become available on prescription in Wales.

The formulation of the Sativex oral spray comes from two chemical extracts collected from the cannabis plant and it contains cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The drug will be available to NHS patients in Wales suffering with multiple sclerosis (MS). This comes after it was approved for use by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group. This makes the Welsh NHS the first health service in the UK to make drugs related to cannabis available on prescription.

This decision has been welcomed by Multiple Sclerosis Trust and they hope that it will push England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow in the footsteps of the Welsh.

The charity has campaigned for a long time for the drug to be available to MS sufferers because of the impact of the condition on the daily activities of sufferers.

Sativex is the first cannabis-based medicine to receive licensure in the UK. It is classified as a B drug and is only available on prescription from a qualified health professional.

It is considered a criminal offence to allow another person to use Sativex, unless they are entitled to possess it.

The MS Trust’s website carries a statement which states that there were initial concerns the drug may result in drug dependence, cause withdrawal symptoms or be psychoactive, due to its cannabis derivation. However, studies that have been done into long-term use of the drug in people with the condition indicated that sudden treatment discontinuation did not indicate any significant symptoms linked to withdrawal. Some patients reported a change in their appetite, mood and sleeping patterns once they discontinued use of the drug.

This lack of withdrawal symptoms indicates that dependence on the treatment method is not likely. Sativex did not have an effect on memory or thinking, and it did not induce any mental health issues at the recommended dosages.

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