Updated: 2nd February 2021
The Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly has announced that the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) has been added to the HSE Service Plan for 2021, a move that will enable the funding and delivery of the MCAP this year. The MCAP was established through legislation passed in 2019 but has not been made operational as yet.
The MCAP will facilitate compassionate access to cannabis-based products for certain medical conditions, where conventional treatment has failed. This development will be of particular interest to people with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy who have no further treatment options available to them to gain control of their seizures.
The HSE will establish and maintain an electronic register to facilitate the enrolment and recording of patients and prescribers (specialist consultants) enrolled in the MCAP, as well as prescribed / supplied medical cannabis products. Currently four products have been approved by the HPRA under the programme. However, it appears that pricing and supply arrangements with the manufacturers of these products still need to be agreed with the HSE.
It also remains unclear which, if any of the currently approved products will have a clinical applicability in treating epilepsy.
However, we welcome the Minister's announcement which brings the programme is a step closer to opening which will in turn provide some people with refractory epilepsy a new option to gain seizure control under the guidance of their consultants.
You can read the Minister’s statement on this matter by visiting the Department of Health website.
We will continue to follow developments closely and provide any further updates we received on our website and social media channels.
As with any medication for your epilepsy, please follow the guidance of your medical team and consult with them before trying any new medication.