UK's first project for medical cannabis launches – EPM Magazine


The UK’s first national medical cannabis project has been launched with a goal of recruiting 20,000 patients before the end of 2021.

Launched by Drug Science’s Medical Cannabis Working Group, Project TWENTY21 will focus on a range of patients and situations where alternative treatments have failed. These include patients with chronic pain, PTSD with a focus on the veteran community, multiple sclerosis and Tourette’s. More so the project will place a particular focus on prison populations who are susceptible to harm and substance use disorder as a harm reduction strategy.

The project will develop a body of evidence using a real-world data registry which documents the efficacy, safety, QALY (quality, adjusted, life, year) and patient reported outcomes in those prescribed medical cannabis.

The data will be used to assist health authorities to assess patient applications in the hope that there will soon be a new regulatory system for medical cannabis in the UK.

Drug Science chair professor David Nutt said: “Cannabis was a medicine in the UK for over a century until 1971 when 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. Despite the UK making cannabis a medicine in November 2018 there have as yet been only a handful of prescriptions on the NHS. To rectify this impasse Drug Science has joined forces with the United Patients Alliance, leading academics and several medical cannabis producers to open up a treatment network for up to 20,000 patients. This will allow patients to get vital therapy without breaking the law. It will also 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.”

Australian medical cannabis group Althea has been selected to supply its range of products to the project.

Althea chief medical officer Dr Robert Pawinski said: “Althea is proud to be able to provide the product as part of the national pilot, and resources to ensure patient access. We believe the pilot program will yield valuable data that can then be used to further bolster the case for medical cannabis use and inform public health and stakeholder decisions.”

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