Graphic: reads #CannabisForMS and shows illustration of Sativex spray and molecular structure for cannabis

NICE decision a blow to accessing cannabis for MS

Today the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published draft guidance for prescribing cannabis-based medicines. It's refused to recommend cannabis for pain and spasticity in MS, and won't recommend Sativex for wider use on the NHS.

What does this mean for people with MS in the UK?

This guidance will apply to England. We're speaking to government bodies across the UK to find out whether it will also be applied across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What is Sativex?

Sativex is a cannabis based spray that’s an effective treatment for MS-related muscle spasms. It’s licensed in the UK for treating muscle spasms and stiffness in people with MS, when other medicines haven’t worked.

However, its cost (around £500 a month) puts it out of reach for most people.

Sativex is available on the NHS to people with MS in Wales. NICE has suggested a lower price would increase its likelihood of being cost effective across the UK.

What happens next?

NICE will be consulting on the guidance over the next four weeks before publishing final guidance in November. During that time we'll be talking to people with MS and health professionals and feeding their views into our response.

People with MS need to be a priority

Genevieve Edwards, our Director of External Affairs, said:

“We’re bitterly disappointed by these guidelines. NICE’s refusal to recommend cannabis for pain and muscles spasms, or to fund Sativex on the NHS, means thousands of people with MS will continue to be denied an effective treatment.

“MS is relentless and painful, yet not a single person with MS has benefited from medicinal cannabis being legalised nine months ago.

The Government and the companies behind Sativex need to make people with MS a priority.

"Together with NICE, they must get around the table immediately to make Sativex available. This depends on the manufacturers accepting a lower price for the medicine, as right now the cost is entirely unrealistic.”

Share your story

Do you or someone you care for have experience trying to access cannabis-based medicines for MS?

Share your story with us at at campaigns@mssociety.org.uk.