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More research on cannabis-based medicinal products needed

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NICE has recommended further investigation NICE has recommended further investigation

NICE has published draft recommendations on the use of cannabis-based medicinal products following a comprehensive evaluation of their clinical and cost-effectiveness.

The organisation states that the lack of evidence about the long term safety and effectiveness of medicinal cannabis has weighed heavily on prescribing decisions and recommends two clinical trials be set up.

‘We recognise that some people will be disappointed that we have not been able to recommend the wider use of cannabis-based medicinal products,’ said Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE.

‘However, we were concerned when we began developing this guidance that a robust evidence base for these mostly unlicensed products was probably lacking. Having now considered all the available evidence it’s therefore not surprising that the committee has not been able to make many positive recommendations about their use.’

The draft guidance, which is open for public consultation until 5 September 2019, considers the use of these products for people with intractable nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy, chronic pain, spasticity, and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

“Without sufficient evidence to help them balance potential benefits against potential harms when they are deciding whether to prescribe medicinal cannabis to children with very severe epilepsy, it is clear clinicians are very reluctant to prescribe,’ said Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England.

‘We heard loud and clear the concerns and frustration the children’s families are feeling, but these recommendations aim to help us develop the evidence base to understand how safe these products are, and ensure education and expert advice is available to support clinicians across the UK.’

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