The medical use of cannabis-based products was legalised at the end of 2018 but patients have said there is a lack of NHS prescriptions for the drug which can only be prescribed on a case-by-case basis by a consultant doctor listed on the GMC’s specialist register at the moment. Last month the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said he had asked NHS England to investigate and address “barriers to clinically appropriate prescribing” of medical cannabis.
The NHS Business Services Authority has confirmed that ten private prescriptions and three NHS prescriptions for medical cannabis were dispensed for use in primary care in January and February 2019. This does not include any prescriptions issued or dispensed in hospitals or other secondary care environments. This is contrary to the message from the NHS BSA earlier this year that it had no intention of publishing prescribing data for medical cannabis because patients might be easily identified if the data on the small prescribing numbers was compared with other data in the public domain.
“Medical cannabis prescriptions dispensed in primary care“
England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, told the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee in March 2019 that the pharmaceutical industry should fund randomised controlled trials of medical cannabis, so that patients can get faster access to licensed products.