Approved but denied

Monday 16 August 2021

We've just launched our new campaign to make sure people with MS in England aren't facing an unacceptable postcode lottery. Take action now to call on your local health service to provide Sativex for people with MS. 

Join our #ApprovedButDenied campaign 

Getting the treatment you need shouldn’t be a game of chance. But too often, this is the case for thousands of people living with MS who experience muscle spasms.  

Sativex, a cannabis-based spray, was approved to treat moderate to severe spasms when other treatments haven't worked in England in 2019. Yet many people with MS are still unable to access it.

Sativex is only funded in 49 out of 106 of England’s local health bodies. This means that people with MS are facing an unacceptable postcode lottery. 

The need for Sativex

The pandemic has had a huge impact on people living with MS, and many missed out on care and support. As the NHS works hard to build back, people with MS must have access to treatment no matter where they live. Sativex doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does it can be life changing. It’s vital that health bodies across England ensure everyone who meets the criteria can access Sativex.

Download our Sativex policy report (PDF, 2.7 MB)

Time for change

Our Policy Manager, Fredi Cavander-Attwood, says: “It's completely unacceptable that two years after receiving NICE approval, Sativex is only available in 49 out of 106 health areas in England. MS can be relentless, painful and disabling, and getting the treatment you need shouldn’t be a game of chance. 

“Right now, some people with MS are having to choose between living with excruciating spasms or paying as much as £500 a month for a private Sativex prescription – it costs the NHS under £300 to provide the same dose. Some are even being forced to break the law by buying cannabis illegally. This cruel postcode lottery must end, and health bodies across England need to ensure that everyone who meets the criteria is able to access Sativex.”

Across the UK


Sativex has been available on the NHS in Wales since 2014. We’re currently working with Health Boards to make sure services for people with MS are available as the NHS builds back from the impact of the pandemic. If you’d like to share your experience of trying to access Sativex with us, please email [email protected]

Northern Ireland

Sativex was approved for use in April 2021. So far, our monitoring suggests people with MS who meet the criteria are being offered the treatment after discussion with their consultant. If you're having any issues accessing Sativex, please let us know by emailing [email protected]


Sativex was approved for use on the NHS in Scotland in September 2022 by the Scottish Medicines Consortium. 

Take action on Sativex

Take action now to call on your local health service to provide Sativex for people with MS.

Join our #ApprovedButDenied campaign