Statement on the law regarding cannabis-based products for chronic pain

The following joint statement is from the HMSA, the Ehlers-Danlos Support UK and The Ehlers-Danlos Society on cannabis-based products, chronic pain, and hypermobility-related disorders and is regarding changes in the law in the United Kingdom.

This statement is for people with chronic pain and hypermobility disorders such as the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). It is for people in the UK, or non-UK patients being treated by doctors in the UK.

As of the 1st November 2018 the UK Government has changed the law such that doctors can prescribe cannabis-based medicines.

However, the doctor must be a specialist consultant, and the conditions for which these medicines might be used at present are multiple sclerosis; epilepsy; and nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Even then it must be that all other treatments have been tried first, and the risks and benefits considered carefully.

Currently there are no licensed cannabis-based medicines for chronic pain in the UK. This may change in the coming years with new drugs, or there may in the future be guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and other organisations that would allow pain specialist doctors to prescribe such medication.

For now, we are advising our members that they should not expect that their doctor in the UK will be able to prescribe a cannabis-based treatment for chronic pain or muscle spasm for hypermobility-related conditions, or any form of chronic widespread pain such as fibromyalgia.

We will support research and guideline development where we are able to; and, monitor the situation and advise our members as this changes.

If you would like to read more about the change in the UK law and the Department of Health and Social Care’s position on this you may find the letters referenced below a helpful start. These letters have been published by the Chief Medical Officer, National Medical Director, and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer of NHS England; and, The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.

 

Kay Julier, Managing Director, and Dr Hanadi Kazkaz Chief Medical Officer, Ehlers-Danlos Support UK
Donna Wicks, Chief Executive Officer, and Dr Philip Bull, Medical Adviser and Trustee, HMSA
Lara Bloom, International Executive Director, and Dr Alan Hakim, Dir. Of Education, The Ehlers-Danlos Society

References

Cannabis-based products for medicinal use. Department of Health and Social Care, Gateway Publications clearance 08539, 31 October 2018

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/753444/

Cannabis-based products for medicinal use. The Scottish Government, 31st October 2018

https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/cmo/CMO(2018)15.pdf

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