NICE rules out cannabis product on prescription in UK

The cannabis-based drug initially approved for use on the NHS in Wales should not be made available on prescription to treat muscle spasms in MS patients, according to NICE guidance.

Cannabis: NHS use of oral spray ruled out by NICE
Cannabis: NHS use of oral spray ruled out by NICE

In its updated guidance for treating MS released on Wednesday, NICE said the drug nabiximols (Sativex), an oral spray derived from the class B drug, was ‘not a cost effective treatment’ and clinicians should not offer it to patients.

The decision comes just two months after the drug was approved for use on the NHS in Wales. The NICE guidance overrules this recommendation, meaning new patients across the UK, including Wales, will not be able to receive the drug on the NHS.

The recommendation does not apply to any patients who may have already started treatment with Sativex, who should be able to continue treatment ‘until they and their NHS clinician think it appropriate to stop’, according to the guidance.

NICE recommends baclofen or gabapentin as first-line options to treat muscle spasms in MS patients, or a combination of the two treatments depending on a case-by-case basis. Tizandine and dantrolene were recommended as second-line options.

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