Sicily: Report says region launches free supply of medical cannabis in all Provincial Health Authorities

Cannabis Terapeutica reports…

Sicily Region and medical cannabis: the mobilization of the Medical Cannabis Patients Committee 

Following a note sent by the Medical Cannabis Patients Committee to report the Provincial Health Authorities (ASP) that were still in default in distributing medical cannabis to eligible patients, the Sicily Region announced that “the Health Authorities subject to the report, in order to ensure the NHS supply of this galenic, have adopted in the previous months specific resolutions with pharmacies open to the public or, pending the signing of the agreement, have authorized the supply of preparations containing cannabinoids in case of prescriptions compliant with current legislation ” .

This was communicated on its website by the Medical Cannabis Patients Committee itself, which also presented the motion for the extension of the free provision for other treatments and other pathologies in addition to those already provided for by the regional health system , such as the treatment of chronic pain, for which the free provision is provided for by the decree of the Department of Health of January 17, 2020. In particular, now the attention of the motion is turned to epilepsy.

“ Sicily can offer itself as the leading region for estimating medical cannabis needs, ” said Angela Foti, vice president of Ars and regional deputy of Attiva Sicilia. “It is time to start all the necessary interlocutions at the State-Regions Conference to update the list of diseases for which the use of cannabis for medical use is foreseen and to overcome the stalemate maintained inexplicably by the State in terms of cannabis production medical. This situation is a harassment of the thousands of sick people who are only formally allowed to be treated ”.

The motion for the extension of the disbursement

The motion dates back to last August, when the Medical Cannabis Patients Committee addressed the Councilor for Health Ruggero Razza to ask to extend the indications for the free provision of medicinal cannabis preparations also to epilepsy drug- resistant and not. , a pathology for which at national level there are already some more than positive feedbacks, such as the one told in a recent interview with by Felice Spaccavento, anesthetist-resuscitator at the head of the palliative care unit of the ASL of Bari.

The request sent to the Region of Sicily was accompanied by a technical report made by the scientific referent of the Committee, Dr. Carlo Privitera. 

“Epilepsy is one of the most frequent neurological diseases,” the report reads. “30% -40% of newly diagnosed patients have difficulty controlling seizures. Normally, if a patient exhibits two or more seizures, he is initiated on antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment. Despite the availability of over 20 antiepileptic drugs for the symptomatic treatment of epileptic seizures, about one third of patients with epilepsy have seizures refractory to pharmacotherapy ”. According to the report, in fact, epilepsy affects about 1 in 10 people and it is estimated that in Italy between 500 thousand and 600 thousand people , often children , are affected . In many cases, medical cannabis therapies are economically unsustainable, hence the Committee’s request.

The report was in particular expressed in favor of the drug Epidyolex® (extracted with 99.8% of CBD of plant origin) and any additions of pure CBD (synthetic or extracted). In the report presented, the Committee asks whether the drug Epidiolex (based on medical cannabis) has obtained the loanability for patients suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, so that it is not possible to extend the free supply of medical cannabis to all affected patients. from all forms of epilepsy.

The response of the Sicily Region

Considering the lack of legislation at national level, but, at the same time, the validity throughout the European Union of the drug Epidyolex®, which was favorably evaluated on the basis of the risk and benefit ratio and was characterized by the Italian Medicines Agency as Essential Level of Assistance (LEA) drug, the Region of Sicily affirmed that ” Epidyolex has been included in the PTORS and can therefore be prescribed , at the expense of the NHS, within the conditions provided for by AIFA throughout the region”. 

To this is added a further confirmation that allows the Regions to take a new step forward: “the Department will promptly assess any new areas of use of Cannabis for therapeutic use that the competent Ministry of Health will want to authorize”.


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