The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has refined its recommendations for prescribing medical cannabis in the UK. The parents of a young epileptic boy ceased a legal challenge after the declaration.
Alison and Matt Hughes, whose three-year-old son Charlie suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called West Syndrome, had obtained medicinal cannabis through a private prescription that made it possible to legally import products from the Netherlands.
After the local NHS Trust informed him that current NICE guidelines prevent them from prescribing cannabis-based medicinal products through the NHS, the parents decided to take legal action.
Medical cannabis was legalized in the UK in November 2018, and NICE published its recommendations on prescribing medical cannabis, which will be published the following year.
As more and more patients access medical cannabis through private clinics, access through the NHS remains extremely rare. This is mainly due to a lack of knowledge and unwillingness to prescribe among doctors and clinicians.
According to the recommendations, medical cannabis products can be prescribed by specialist clinicians for a range of conditions and ailments, including treatment-resistant epilepsy. However, some have previously interpreted the lack of a recommendation for a prescription as a recommendation against the use of the drugs.
The latest NICE guidelines state: “However, the fact that Nice has not made such a population-wide recommendation should not be interpreted by health professionals to prevent them from considering the use of unlicensed cannabis-based medicines pull if this is clinically appropriate in the individual case.
“Cannabis-based medicinal products may be prescribed to patients in this population if the doctor believes that there is a fair balance of benefit and risk, and in consultation with the patient and their family members, caregivers or legal guardians. There is no recommendation against the use of cannabis-based medicines. “
Source: The Hughes Family
Three-year-old Charlie Hughes has reportedly seen significant improvement in symptoms after undergoing medical cannabis treatment. Scans of Charlie’s brain showed significantly decreased epileptic activity due to the use of the drugs.
In a statement reported by The Guardian, the Hugheses said, “We are delighted that this trial has finally come to a satisfactory end, and we hope this will give pediatricians more confidence in the NHS prescribing on an individual basis for patients like Charlie who have shown amazing results with medicinal cannabis.
“Many families have to pay huge sums of money every month to protect their children and get private prescriptions for cannabis-based drugs to work for them. You should get these life saving treatments on the NHS. “
Alison and Matt Hughes announced their plan to take legal action last August.