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Why won't the UK prescribe medical cannabis?

These guidelines provide advice on how doctors can safely prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering from conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Tourette syndrome. However, some doctors remain reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis because there is still little evidence supporting its effectiveness.

There is a lack of evidence-based medicine for most of the indications mentioned in the NICE guidance document. For example, it states that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of medical cannabis for treating anxiety disorders, sleep problems, cancer pain, glaucoma, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and neuropathic pain caused by diabetes.

In addition, the document provides no recommendations regarding the dosage, frequency, or duration of treatment.

Prescribing of cannabis products is complex and challenging due to their status as a schedule one drug under the Misuse Of Drugs act 1971. This makes it difficult to obtain research funding for clinical trials.

As well as this, there are many barriers to prescribing medicinal cannabis including; the fact that it is illegal to sell cannabis products in the UK, the cost of obtaining the product, and the complexity of the process involved in acquiring a license to produce and supply the product.

Doctors feel unprepared to prescribe medical marijuana. A survey conducted by the Royal College of Physicians found that 63% of GPs felt ill-prepared to prescribe medical cannabis. They reported feeling uncomfortable about prescribing cannabis, unsure whether they had enough knowledge to do so, and worried that they might make mistakes.

Prescribing medical cannabis is complex. Medical cannabis is classified as a controlled substance and therefore requires a prescription. To qualify for a prescription, you must meet certain criteria including having been diagnosed with a specific disease or disorder, being prescribed another medication that does not treat the same illness, and having tried alternative therapies without success.

The pharmacy perspective

A pharmacist’s role is to protect the public interest. This includes ensuring patients receive safe, appropriate medicines while preventing unnecessary harm. Pharmacists must ensure patients understand how to use medications safely and correctly, and monitor patient adherence to treatment regimens.

They must also work closely with prescribers to make sure patients are receiving the best possible care.

Prescribing guidelines can help pharmacists do just that. For example, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a UK body that provides guidance on clinical practice, has published several guidelines on the management of chronic pain.

These include recommendations on the type of medication to prescribe, dosage levels, frequency of dosing, and duration of treatment.

Patients should read reviews of complementary and integrative therapies online. Some people claim to have had success using these treatments, but others report negative experiences. Patients should always seek advice from a healthcare professional before starting any therapy.

When conventional treatments reach their limit, our work begins.

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