Michael raised the difficulties experienced by families in obtaining NHS prescriptions for Medical Cannabis with Health Ministers today in the House of Commons.
Michael asked “If he will take steps to help ensure access to medicinal cannabis for NHS patients”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Patient Safety and Primary Care Maria Caulfield replied: “On 1st November 2018, this Government changed the law to allow the prescription of cannabis-based products for medicinal use by a specialist where clinically appropriate. Licensed cannabis-based medicines such as Sativex and Epidiolex are available routinely on the NHS.”
Michael then said: : “I am grateful for that answer, and in particular mentioning what happened in 2018, because of course it was her boss, the Secretary of State for Health, when he was Home Secretary, who was the pioneer in all this. But there is a but; and the but is that young children are not getting this vital medicine on the NHS. Indeed some parents are having to pay £2,000 a month, and in the last three years, only three prescriptions on the NHS have been issued. So how can we improve this situation?”
Maria Caulfield then replied: “My Honourable Friend has been campaigning for a long time on this issue, particularly for the sad tragic case of Vicky Clarke, who was his constituent. I have met with the All Party Parliamentary Group, we’ve had debates in this place and in Westminster Hall on this very issue; the key is getting those products licensed, and we have been in discussion with the MHRA about how to do this, and it is about gathering that evidence base.
“I am really pleased to say that NHS England and the National Institute for Health Research have only recently announced two clinical randomised control trials to try and build that evidence base to get more of these products licensed.”
Commenting on this, Michael now says “The issue is not just getting some of these drugs approved, but having sufficient clinicians trained in this highly specialist area who feel themselves competent to prescribe these drugs. The problem encountered by my constituents in Burntwood are being replicated in other parts of the country. Cannabis has been demonised across the board and this prejudice is causing some of the problems in getting it prescribed on the NHS. We need to adopt a fresh approach and I will continue to pressure health ministers.”