Top Scots Doctor Demands GPs Are Given Authority To Prescribe Cannabis Medicine – Todayuknews – Todayuknews
Family doctors should be permitted to give cannabis-based drugs which prevent children suffering epileptic seizures, a neurologist has said.
Dr Adelaida Martinez claims allowing GPs to give the drugs would prevent “life-threatening” situations.
The expert has been writing prescriptions for two Scots boys on “compassionate grounds” for three years.
Unlicensed CBD drugs help ease seizures suffered by Murray Gray and Cole Thomson, both nine.
But while the drugs would be free to them on the NHS, they need an paediatric neurologist to sign the prescriptions.
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The Scottish Government cannot change the policy because drug control is a reserved matter to Westminster.
Instead their families need a private practitioner to sign-off dosages which can cost more than £1,000 each month.
But Martinez, who has just retired, said the decision on the children’s medication should be transferred to GPs.
She appealed to the UK health secretary Sajid Javid to change government policy to allow family doctors to sign the prescriptions.
In a letter to Javid, Martinez, consultant paediatric neurologist at London’s Portland Hospital for Women and Children, said she had been “prescribing CBD medication to a group of children with intractable epilepsy since December 2018”.
She said: “I have done this on compassionate grounds.”
The only drug currently available on the NHS is Epidiolex but it is only given for treatment of two specific types of epilepsy. Others who have been prescribed the drug have found it does not help reduce their seizures.
Martinez said in her letter to Javid: “Without access to their unlicensed CBD medications, many of these children would have been left fighting for their lives.
“However, I am in the process of retiring and will not be able to prescribe for these children after September this year.
“I have tried to find an alternative Paediatric Neurologist who will take over the prescribing arrangements but this has proved extremely difficult.
“There is one doctor in the UK who may do this but it will be on a case-by-case basis and through a private cannabis clinic, outside of mainstream medical care and not the best clinical solution for the children.”
She continued: “Most of the children have been taking their prescribed medication for at least two years and have been stable, or significantly improved, during this time. Therefore, I feel it may be more clinically appropriate to transfer them to their local GPs.
“This would follow the same process that is already in place for any other unlicensed controlled drug medication.
“I know that a majority of the GPs dealing with this group of children wish to prescribe, but, in order to do so, this requires a change of policy from the Health Department because it is CBD medication which has been treated differently to other controlled drugs.
“Any help you could give with this policy change would be much appreciated by myself and the parents of the children and help avoid putting the children into life threatening situations.”
Both Cole and Murray now receive their prescriptions through Sapphire Medical Clinic, a site which specialises in medical cannabis.
Martinez yesterday said: “Children who have epilepsy which is alleviated by cannabis medication should be able to have prescriptions fulfilled by their GPs.
“This is exactly the same process as already exists for any other type of unlicensed controlled drug in the United Kingdom.”
Scottish Lib-Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The only thing that stands in the way of these children and life-saving therapy is a clinician willing to sign a prescription,
“I know there are hundreds of GPs around the country willing to step up and write that script in the knowledge cannabis therapies are saving these children yet an obscure rule means only a specialist neurologist can currently sign that prescription.
“That’s stopping thousands of children like Murray and Cole getting the life saving help they need and it needs to change.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our sympathies are with all patients and families dealing with rare and hard to treat conditions. The government has already changed the law to allow specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis-based products, where clinically appropriate and in the best interests of patients.
“Licensed cannabis-based medicines are funded by the NHS where there is clear evidence of their quality, safety and effectiveness.”
However, the Government said more evidence is needed to routinely prescribe and fund other unlicensed treatments on the NHS and that they continue to back further research as well as looking at how to minimise the costs of these medicines.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have enormous sympathy and deeply appreciate the very difficult situation any family will face in these circumstances.
“The product for which the families are seeking NHS funding is not currently licensed for use on the NHS and unlicensed products are not routinely prescribed by NHS clinicians.
“The regulation, licensing and supply of Cannabis Based Products for Medicinal Use (CBPMs) is reserved to the UK Government– and the Scottish Government has no power to alter this.
“We continue to explore solutions for the families currently affected. We also continue to support the development of UK-based clinical trials which will help to build the evidence base for CBPMs.”
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