Today NICE published new cannabis guidelines, approving the use of Sativex for moderate to severe spasticity (spasms) for NHS patients in England.
The decision only applies to England, and the announcement doesn’t come with funding. That means access in England will depend on local NHS funding decisions.
Disappointingly NICE didn’t recommend any cannabis based treatments for pain.
Who can get Sativex on prescription?
If you live in England, have moderate to severe spasticity (spasms) and other treatments haven’t helped, you can ask your MS specialist for Sativex. But it may still not be easy to get. That’s because the NHS in some regions might not agree to pay for the drug, or local prescribers might decide not to give it to people.
You can still talk to your MS specialist about your chances of getting a prescription for it.
What about Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland?
Sativex has been available in Wales since 2014. We want to see it made available on the NHS in Scotland and Northern Ireland too. We hope this will happen soon.
An important first step, but not far enough
Together we’ve been campaigning for access to Sativex across the UK. And hundreds of you shared your experiences of trying to access cannabis for medicinal use with NICE.
Genevieve Edwards, our Director of External Affairs said:
“These guidelines are an important first step, but don’t go far enough. No cannabis-based treatments have been recommended to treat pain, a common symptom of MS. Additionally, because Sativex will be funded by local bodies – who might not have the resource they need to prescribe it – even more people could miss out.
“We’re calling on the next UK Government to accelerate research and remove barriers to this vital treatment, so cannabis for MS can finally become a reality.”
What happens next?
We’ll keep pushing the company that makes Sativex and health bodies to work together so everyone in the UK who needs Sativex can get it.
And we won’t stop campaigning until everyone with MS who could benefit from medicinal cannabis can access it on the NHS.