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A Call for ‘Naming and Shaming’ of ‘Unhelpful’ Cannabis Drug Firms in the U.K.

cannabis prescriptions u.k.
Written by Peter McCusker

Proposals to name and shame businesses that fail to provide cannabis drugs for use in U.K. clinical trials have been made by Members of Parliament.

After months of interviews and weighing-up reams of evidence The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee has issued its latest report; ‘Drugs policy: medicinal cannabis’. It concludes that the main reason so few NHS cannabis prescriptions have been made in the U.K. – believed to be no more than 10 – is that clinicians fear they will be putting their jobs on the line by prescribing cannabis medication.

According to the NHS England, “As with prescribing any other unlicensed medicine, it is a clinical decision to determine the most appropriate medication or course of treatment to prescribe for a patient, having taken into account the patient, the clinical condition, the clinical evidence of efficacy and safety and the suitability of licensed medicines.”

However the problem in the U.K. is such special drugs are subject to stringent guidelines. The committee report elaborates: “Doctors must be satisfied that there is a sufficient evidence base for prescribing the unlicensed product.

“If there is an insufficient evidence base, doctors are reluctant to prescribe knowing that they are taking personal responsibility for doing so and that there could be serious professional and legal consequences if there are adverse outcomes for their patient.”

The report goes on to say it believes more research is needed into cannabis prescriptions in the U.K. It says the Government and industry should work to further the evidence base in order to improve the confidence of doctors and allow more products to be licensed.

But it says one of the barriers to research is that industry is not always prepared to supply products for research trials. “We heard throughout our inquiry that some pharmaceutical companies were not willing to provide their product for trial,” the report says.

One senior clinician told the committee she believes some companies do not feel the ‘need to do the trials because it is just going to be prescribed and therefore it is going to be okay’.

It concludes that some such companies should be sanctioned adding: “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.” However, this approach has been criticized by the cannabis industry with Hari Guliani, Chief Operating Officer of London firm Grow Biotech saying:

“We welcome the recommendation to increase engagement with patients and the public on this and the focus on helping families of children with intractable epilepsy. 

“However, the risk of ‘naming and shaming’ companies who do not support all forms of research is likely to dissuade companies from investing in the UK, compared with other jurisdictions. Instead, it would be helpful to encourage these companies to develop a greater understanding in the UK.”

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1 Comment

  • The company that most needs to be ‘named and shamed’ is GW Pharmaceuticals.

    But will MPs be prepared to highlight the fact that Theresa May, the prime minister and Victoria Atkins, the drugs minister both make personal financial gain from the only company that presently holds a licence to grow cannabis for commercial purposes?

    GW’s products have already been throuigh clinical trials but the company maintains its prices at such an exploitative and unjustifiable level that the NHS will not fund them.

    GW was the first company anywhere in the world to be granted such a licence back in 1998 but it has betrayed the nation that gave it this opportunity.

    Its licence should be cancelled unless in is prepared to supply product to the NHS at an affordable rate. It should also be required to release raw herbal cannabis and oils as unlicensed CBPMs for prescription as schedule 2 medicines.

    GW’s licence is a privilege and it comes with responsibilities. The government should insist that it revises its trading practices to comply with approporiate ethical standards.

About the author

Peter McCusker

Peter McCusker is an experienced news and business editor, who believes it’s time to fully embrace the multiple, proven, medical benefits of the cannabis plant.