Britain’s former Drugs Czar Prof David Nutt – sacked 10 years ago this month – is to head Europe’s largest ever study into medical cannabis involving 20,000 patients
Known as Project 21, the two-year trial is aimed at providing the evidence needed to generate momentum into the U.K.’s faltering medical cannabis program. Prof Nutt, dismissed by the U.K Government for saying alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous to health than ecstasy, LSD and cannabis, went on to form Drugs Science – an independent, science-led drugs charity. Project 21’s partners include the United Patients Alliance and The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), with the aim of creating the largest European medical cannabis body of evidence, reports The Guardian newspaper.
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Three Companies Support Trial
It is being backed by three medical cannabis businesses who will supply subsidized cannabis medicine, reports Health Europa. The trial will focus on a number of conditions including; chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder or who have had a history of substance misuse.
Prof David Nutt said in a press release that medical cannabis had been used as in the U.K. for over a century, until 1971, before ‘it was banned for political reasons’. “Since then hundreds of thousands of patients have been forced to break the law to get a treatment that most find preferable to their previous prescription medicines,” he says. However with only a handful of patients securing cannabis medicine since the change U.K. law last November item is to ‘open up a treatment network for up to 20,000 patients’.
‘Solid Clinical Database’
He said this will provide a ‘solid clinical database from which experience of and confidence in, medical cannabis prescribing will develop, providing a foundation for other medical prescribers to build on’.
Italian company Althea and U.K. firms Alta-Flora and Cannuba will take part, with Rob James, CEO of Cannuba saying it is ‘very excited to be part of this policy changing project’. Professor Wendy Burn, the RCP president aid it hopes the trial will ‘address the paucity of evidence’ for the use of cannabis-based medicine.
She said it hoped the project, ‘along with other research such as more much-needed randomized control trials, will continue to build the evidence’. Dr Arun Bhaskar, president of the British Pain Society said some 28 million people in the UK will at some stage, suffer from chronic pain.
“Data from several countries reveal that medical cannabis have benefited several thousands of patients,”he added.