The Department for Health and Social Care have submitted guidance through a letter to health clinicians and organisations in order to clarify the legal status and prescription of cannabis-based products for medicinal use.
The information, agreed by Chief Medical Officers and Chief Pharmaceutical Officers across the United Kingdom, follows the re-scheduling of cannabis-based products for medicinal use on November 1st 2018.
The letter contains information on current clinical guidance and a summary of specific distinctions within synthetic cannabinoid products.
According to the letter, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ( NICE) has been asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to produce a clinical guideline on the prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans, which is expected by October 2019 at the latest.
The interim clinical guidance published by the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) on the use of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in children and young people with epilepsy and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) guidance around prescribing of cannabis- based products for medicinal use in chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, chronic pain and pain in palliative care patients is based on the best available clinical evidence. NHS England have also asked the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) to provide interim guidance on the use of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in adult neurological conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
A set of clinical frequently asked questions (FAQs) is currently being prepared to provide further support to prescribers; once available these will be published here. In the meantime, clinicians should discuss any queries around prescriptions with their local hospital Chief Pharmacist/Director of Pharmacy in the first instance.
Cannabis-based products for medicinal use can be divided into those that are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant and those that aresynthetic.
There are distinctions between the different types of synthetic cannabinoids and two current synthetic cannabinoid medicines (Dronabinol and Nabilone) remain available for prescribing and have not been affected by the recent legislative change.