Thousands of people will be given cannabis as a painkiller in a major new trial that could pave the way for it to be prescribed by the NHS
Cannabis is going to be tested by thousands of Britons as a painkiller. If successful, it may be prescribed by the NHS.
Cannabis will be administered daily by inhalation in the trial of 5000 participants with chronic pain, including arthritis.
Whole plant cannabis will be administered through inhalers that vaporize the drug. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will then assess whether cannabis should become an approved treatment for nearly 15 million adults.
In England, around one in three adults suffer from chronic pain, ie pain that lasts more than three months.
For the National Health Service (NHS) cannabis could prevent people from self-medicating, by using drug dealers or ordering drugs on the Internet, and could also be safer than opioids which are the most popular treatments. commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain.
Medicinal cannabis has been legalized in the UK since 2018. Three drugs have been approved, including Epidiolex, a highly purified liquid containing a cannabis extract, CBD, for a rare form of epilepsy. Only a handful of patients benefit from an NHS prescription.
Whole herb treatments have yet to be approved in the UK, unlike other countries like Germany, Canada, Israel and Australia. The NHS states that there is "evidence that medical cannabis can help certain types of pain, although this evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief".
Tony Samios, of the private company LVL Health which is conducting the trial, said declared that the NHS could develop cannabis "in the next few years". “We hope to be able to provide Nice and the NHS with the data they need to do this and to be able to prescribe cannabis… A lot of people could benefit from this,” he added.
The trial, called Canpain, will run over the next three years and is open to patients between the ages of 18 and 85 who have been diagnosed with chronic non-cancer pain. It begins this month with an initial "feasibility study" involving 100 patients to verify safety, and another 5 patients will then be enrolled in the trial through LVL Health's chronic pain clinics.
- Cannabis is going to be tested as an analgesic, which could allow it to be prescribed on the NHS.
- Whole plant cannabis will be administered through inhalers that vaporize the drug.
- The trial will involve 5 participants with chronic pain who take the drug daily.
- Cannabis at £299 per month per patient will prevent 'self-medication'.