England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has called on industry to play a leading role in conducting clinical trials for medicinal cannabis so that this product can claim its ‘rightful place in medicine’.
This exhortation follows the government’s legalisation of cannabis-derived medicines, when prescribed by specialist medical professionals in certain circumstances, in November 2018. However, as cannabis-derived products remain unlicensed pending the completion of clinical trials, doctors have thus far been unwilling to take advantage of this development and to prescribe this.
Chair of the Medicinal Cannabis Clinicians’ Society, Professor Mike Barnes, has said that a range of evidential sources should be considered as standard clinical trials for cannabis will prove difficult as is not a single molecule that can be compared to a placebo or a dummy pill. There have also been calls for accelerated trials, as this process can take several years.
The Health and Social Care Committee is currently considering these issues, with oral evidence sessions commencing on Tuesday 19th March 2019, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is developing guidance for specialist medical professionals which it plans to release in October 2019.
For further information, please see the UK government’s press release here.