Plans for cannabis-based medicines
The Department of Health says it hopes to bring forward legislative proposals this year or in early 2013 enabling cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed in Ireland.
It says that notwithstanding reluctance to loosen controls on cannabis generally, expert advice is that Sativex, a drug that contains cannabis extract “is a valid treatment option”.
Made by GW Pharma, Sativex is used for the relief of symptoms of spasticity by multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. It is already available on prescription in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health says the Irish Medicines Board has now completed an assessment of the product and “based on quality, safety and efficacy, has recommended the approval of the product for the Irish market”.
It says however that market authorisation of the product is dependent on changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act which currently classes cannabis-based medicinal products as “controlled substances”.
The Department says it is engaging with experts on how best to legally describe authorised cannabis-based medicinal products while maintaining existing controls on cannabis.
Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan last night said he welcomed the news on “humanitarian grounds”.
“This is a good decision by this government and they should now move quickly to get the necessary legislation in place.”