World leading medics have issued a stinging rebuke to the U.K health authorities slamming their ‘negative’ approach to medical cannabis.
In a letter to The BMJ - the country's leading medical research journal - the experts highlight the success of the medical cannabis programmes elsewhere in the world.
They say, that unless the U.K. authorities change their ‘restrictive’ approach and opt to rely on ‘real-world data’ the National Health Service will continue to ‘fail’ patients. And, they call for the creation of ‘real-world patient registers’ ,as used elsewhere in Europe and the U.S, to support the U.K.’s clinical trials.
Lack Of Prescriptions
Whilst many of the signatories are medical officers at world-leading cannabis companies - many of whom will benefit from a thriving U.K. regime - their frustrations are shared across the wider medical cannabis community.
In the letter they highlight the uptake of medical cannabis across the world, as follows:
- Canada; September 2018, 342,103 patients
- Australia; over 17,300
- California, May 2018; around 916,845 patients
- Germany, legalized in March 2017; an now estimated 60 to 80,000 patients
- Italy; 12,998 patients
And they compare this to the U.K where only 12 medical cannabis prescriptions had been issued, and this may account for as few as two patients. When the U.K. changed the law in November last year, there was widespread hope this would be the dawning of a new era for medical cannabis, but it has been anything but.
This point is taken up the dozen-or-so signatories which include; Dr Jonathan Page PhD, Chief Science Officer, at Aurora and Dr Mark A Ware, MSc. Departments of Family Medicine and Anaesthesia, McGill University and Chief Medical Officer, Canopy Growth Corporation;
They go on to say that demand from patients in the U.K. is ‘unlikely’ to be met, due to the ‘negative’ recommendations from NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).
And they state the ‘current paucity of data’ is ‘justification for its restrictive guidance despite ‘high quality assessments’ on the efficacy of medical cannabis from bodies such as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Like many in the medical cannabis community they rail at the fixation with the Random Control Trial process and call for a real-world patient centric approach.
The letter says: “Many clinical trials have employed the use of surrogate, composite and subjective endpoints, and have failed to allow patients to inform research outcomes. This has often undermined the clinical relevance of these studies, and has resulted in a failure to adequately capture the real-world benefits of cannabis in the lives of patients.”
With ‘the limited numbers of life threatening and serious adverse events’ attributable to medical cannabis they call for a more ‘open approach which will include the creation of real-world patient registries’.