Cannabis Health reports
The cannabis-based treatment, Sativex, will now be available via NHS prescription in Scotland, to treat spasticity in MS patients.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) announced on Monday 12 September, that Sativex would be available for adult NHS patients who experience moderate to severe spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS), where other treatments have not worked.
Until now, Sativex has been approved for use on the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not in Scotland. Although a limited number of people have been able to access it via the Peer Approved Clinical System (PACS) Tier 2 individual patient treatment request process.
Sativex, which is administered via a mouth spray, contains the cannabinoids CBD and THC.
It is currently the only drug in the UK with a licence to treat the muscle stiffness and spasms – also known as spasticity – caused by MS.
Over 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, a long-term condition which affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.
Spasticity can affect between 40 – 80 per cent of people with MS at some point and can be painful and disabling.
Last year a report by the MS Society highlighted that thousands of patients were being denied access to Sativex, despite it being approved for use on the NHS in the majority of the UK.
The findings – published in the report, Approved but Denied: Access to Sativex to treat MS related spasticity in England – revealed that less than half of the Clinical Commissioning Groups in England are funding Sativex.
As part of the campaign, the charity also called on Jazz Pharmaceuticals (formerly GW Pharma) the manufacturer of Sativex, to make a submission to the Scottish Medicines Consortium for the approval of the medicine on the NHS in Scotland.
Bosses welcomed the latest decision, in an announcement on the MS Society website.
Morna Simpkins, Scotland director of the MS Society, commented: “We welcome the SMC’s decision. Sativex has been proven to relieve muscle spasms and their associated pain, leading to improved mobility, better sleep patterns and a better quality of life for the person living with MS and their partner, family and loved ones.
“We’ll continue to work with the SMC, NHS Scotland, individual health boards and neurologists to make sure Sativex quickly becomes available to everyone throughout Scotland whose life could be significantly improved by taking it.”