The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended two cannabis-based medicines for NHS use.
Epidyolex (cannabidiol) oral solution and Sativex (nabiximols) are the first and only plant-derived cannabis-based medicines to be routinely reimbursed on the NHS, manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced on Sunday.
Cannabidiol oral solution is recommended as adjunctive therapy for seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, in conjunction with clobazam, for all patients, except children below two.
Nabiximols is a cost-effective treatment for spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.
“This is a momentous occasion for UK patients and families who have waited for so many years for rigorously tested, evidenced and regulatory approved cannabis-based medicines to be reimbursed by the NHS,” said Chris Tovey, GW’s chief operating officer.
“This is proof that cannabis-based medicines can successfully go through extensive randomised placebo-controlled trials and a rigorous NICE evaluation process to reach patients,” he said.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomed the NICE guidance and expressed pleasure seeing many of its recommendations on board.
Gino Martini, the RPS chief scientist, said the organisation is particularly welcoming the recommendation to focus on prescribing based on clinical evidence.
“Pharmacists will be on the frontline of supplying cannabis-based medicinal products and can give advice to patients on them as part of their treatment plan. It’s essential there is robust governance around prescribing and dispensing, and pharmacists have a key role to play in ensuring this is in place across health systems,” Martini said.
GW’s Epidyolex received EMA approval and marketing authorisation in September.
Nabiximols has been approved by medicines regulators in more than 25 countries across the world.