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Key NHS cannabis project to kick off

Key NHS cannabis project to kick off

A key project developing a flexible health economics analysis tool to evaluate the potential of cannabis prescriptions on the NHS is set to kick off, after funding was secured from a range of backers.

Supporters of the project are Glass Pharms, Ethypharm, and Rua Bioscience. Additional funding was also secured via an industry crowdfunder, held in late 2022.

The research will include a financial comparison of cannabis and other treatments for tackling chronic pain, alongside a consideration of cost and outcomes over a one-year time period.

York Health Economics Consortium is leading on the project, which is being supported by the Cannabis Industry Council and Drug Science.

Mike Morgan-Giles, CEO of the Cannabis Industry Council, commented:

“Providing the NHS with the economic case for expanding cannabis prescriptions is critical if we are to help patients obtain the medicine they need to treat their conditions.

“The Cannabis Industry Council is therefore delighted that the project can now kick off, and we are grateful to Glass Pharms, Ethypharm, Rua Bioscience, and other funders for their support.”

Anne Katrin Schlag, Head of Research of Drug Science, said:

“Many patients are successfully using cannabis-based medicinal products to treat chronic pain. Unfortunately, in the UK, medical cannabis is not currently available through the NHS to treat this condition, meaning that patients face significant costs to access the medicine via private healthcare.

“Drug Science is excited that our health economics analysis is going ahead as, for any future NHS approval, it is important to find out whether medical cannabis will be cost-effective when compared to other treatments currently available.”

Paul Naske, Chief Commercial Officer of Rua Bioscience, said:

“Rua Bioscience is very pleased to support this project and the evidence-based growth of the UK industry. We look forward to the results of such a unique and refreshing look at the economics of cannabis as a medicine.”

James Duckenfield, CEO of Glass Pharms, commented:

“A recent study published in the US has shown chronic pain patients using medical cannabis were able to reduce their use of other pain medications by more than 50%. If the NHS was to offer this in the UK, we could see benefits both for patients and potential cost savings for healthcare. 

“We are supporting this health economics analysis to help provide the data needed for the NHS to make an informed decision on this.”

Within the project, an economic modelling tool will be developed to consider the costs, resource use and utility of medical cannabis. It is envisaged the tool will assess the viability of prescribing cannabis on the NHS under different scientific assumptions. Drug Science will also make T21 project data available to the researchers.

The project is anticipated to be completed within the first half of 2023.

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