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8th Jul 2019
In October 2018 the UK government rescheduled cannabis-based medical products (CBMPs). This process meant that specialist doctors in the UK could legally prescribe these medicines for patients with “exceptional clinical need”, including children and young people with severe and treatment-resistant Epilepsy. The change in the law was the beginning of the process to make these medicinal products available to those who may benefit from them.
Since its rescheduling, there has been lots of misunderstanding about the availability of CBMPs for children. We understand that this has led to frustration for some of our parents and patients who thought that CBMPs would be more readily available.
It is important to remember that CBMPs for children are unlicensed in the UK nor are they approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Prescribing any unlicensed medicine in the UK is a complex process. The GMC guidance for prescribing unlicensed products requires that the doctor involved is satisfied about its safety and takes responsibility for prescribing that medicine. This means that there could be serious professional and legal consequences for the doctor who has prescribed this drug.
We welcome the report published by the Health and Social Care Committee following their inquiry into the use of medicinal cannabis [Click here]. Clearly more research is needed that demonstrates the safety of these products and establishes their effectiveness against other available therapies. This will also provide the evidence needed to enable these products to be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The neurologists who manage children with complex epilepsy at Alder Hey will continue to consider whether a child is eligible to take cannabis based medical products by taking into account a number of factors. This includes the clinical history of the child; the scientific and clinical evidence for use of cannabis based medical products in particular clinical situations; and published guidance from NHS England and the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA).
Alder Hey is also committed to continue its involvement with research trials with CBMPs. Alder Hey always works closely with families to discuss treatment options.
For more information go to:
To read the Health and Social Care Committee report go to:
Alder Hey Children's Charity