|Photo: Daily Mail|
|British MS patients have waited 11 years for Sativex, a cannabis-based oral spray. Now many of them still won’t get it.|
Doctors in southern England have been told not to prescribe a new cannabis-based drug developed for multiple sclerosis patients, reports the BBC.
Sativex, an oral spray which had taken 11 years to develop, was licensed for medical use in the United Kingdom last week.
But unaccountably, 10 primary care trusts have told physicians not to give the treatment, which is designed to reduce pain, claiming it is not effective.
The MS Society charity called the decision “arbitrary and disappointing” and said it would fight against it. It said the decision could affect hundreds of patients.
Sativex costs £125 (about $187 U.S.) a bottle, which works out to about £11 ($16) a day for the average user.
The joint decision (or is it an “un-joint” decision) not to prescribe Sativex was made by trusts in the South Central region of England, including Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Milton Keynes.
National Health Service (NHS) Dorset has also advised doctors, nurses, and specialists not to prescribe Sativex.
According to the trusts, Sativex and similar cannabis-based drugs “were not cost effective and test results were not convincing.”
If doctors want to prescribe Sativex, they must now make a special case to the primary care trust (PCT) for funding.
MS Patients Denied Treatment
|MS patient Mike Bray: “I do feel there is a certain stigma attached to the fact it has been derived from a controlled substance”|
Last week, Mike Bray, who has lived with MS for 15 years, tried to get Sativex from his GP but was told he could not get a prescription.
“What he said to me when I went to the surgery was that he couldn’t prescribe it but suggested that I contact a neurologist,” Bray said.
“If the motivation is purely financial I think it’s a bit misguided,” Bray said. “The longer you can keep people out of wheelchairs, the less they’re likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and that’s ultimately saving money for the PCTs.”
“I do feel there is a certain stigma attached to the fact it has been derived from a controlled substance,” Bray said. “But on the other hand, morphine is derived from a controlled substance as well, and there isn’t any stigma associated with that.”
“There is no leap made between heroin and morphine, so why should there be a leap made between Sativex and cannabis?” Bray asked.
There are about 100,000 people in the U.K. with multiple sclerosis, an incurable neurological condition which affects the transmission of messages from the central nervous system to the rest of the body.