NHS England has asked the Association of British Neurologists to draw up interim guidance on the use of cannabis-based products for medical use in adult neurological conditions — including multiple sclerosis — which prescribers will be advised to adopt.
A letter, which is signed by all UK government chief medical and pharmaceutical officers, also says that a set of clinical frequently asked questions is being developed that will provide further support to prescribers. It will be available on the NHS England website.
Prescribers are being advised to use existing provisional guidance governing when cannabis-based products can be prescribed while they wait for new national guidelines to be drawn up by the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE), the letter states. NICE guidelines are due to be published in October 2019.
The letter tells prescribers they should follow the British Paediatric Neurology Association guidelines on the use of cannabis-based products for medical use in children and young people with epilepsy, and the Royal College of Physicians guidance around prescribing of cannabis-based products for medical use in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, chronic pain and pain in palliative care patients.
In the meantime, clinicians are advised to discuss any prescription queries with their local hospital chief pharmacist or director of pharmacy.
Home secretary Sajid Javid announced in October 2018 that medical cannabis can be prescribed in limited cases for children and adult patients from 1 November 2018.
The announcement followed separate recommendations from Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.