10-02-2017 | Epilepsy Ireland welcomes HPRA's approach to medicinal cannabis use

'10-02-2017 | Epilepsy Ireland welcomes HPRA's approach to medicinal cannabis use' image

Epilepsy Ireland agrees with the approach of the report that examines the potential use of medicinal cannabis in Ireland which was published today by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority's (HPRA) Cannabis for Medical Use – a Scientific Review, which was compiled for the Minister, makes eight recommendations. The HPRA is the state body that protects public health in relation to medicines.

Professor Tony O'Brien, Chair of the HPRA has cautiously advised for the restricted use of cannabis products for a limited number of medical conditions. These conditions include severe forms of epilepsy.

Epilepsy Ireland has long held an evidence-based position on medical cannabis. We therefore agree with the path recommended by the HPRA in the Report, which recognises that access to cannabis treatments may benefit some individual patients with severe forms of epilepsy who have unmet medical needs, while also acknowledging the absence of robust scientific data on the efficacy and safety of cannabis products.

We welcome many of the Report's conclusions and recommendations, in particular:

However there are a number of questions that remain unanswered in the Report, and which will need to be addressed as next steps. These include:

Crucially, there is no indication as yet regarding reimbursement for medical cannabis. The treatment of epilepsy is covered under the Long Term Illness Scheme (LTIS). It is our position that should the government permit the prescribing of medical cannabis for patients with epilepsy, it should also guarantee that the treatment be fully covered under the LTIS regardless of whether the treatment is authorised or not.