Next Tuesday the deadline for commenting on what conditions medicinal cannabis can be legally prescribed for in the UK will pass (for some reason this fact appears to have gone largely unnoticed).
At the moment the list of conditions includes chronic pain, intractable nausea and vomiting, spasticity and epilepsy but not cancer treatment. This is because, despite a significant amount of research proving that cannabis compounds can kill cancer cells in the laboratory, there is evidently not as much as for the other conditions to warrant its inclusion (even for use when all else has failed as a last option).
Traditionally, the process of getting to the level of evidence required for the inclusion of a condition typically involves gold standard randomized controlled trials, which cost £millions.
With cancer rates in general continuing to rise and oncologists having to rely on the decades old treatment options of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for many conditions (only one drug has EVER been developed specifically for a childhood brain tumour), this “gold standard” approach is clearly failing.
Luckily there are those in the scientific community who recognize the limitations of expensive controlled trials and the importance of other approaches such as adaptive clinical trials which evaluate treatments by observing their effects on patients and making changes based on these observations.
I would like to see people being given the option of having medicinal cannabis prescribed to treat their cancer in the first instance although I think at this stage there is something more achievable we should be fighting for – I believe what we currently have is a golden opportunity to advance research into cannabis and cancer…
I’m by no means a researcher or scientist but would it be so hard to imagine the benefits of allowing the prescription of medicinal cannabis to patients for whom all other treatments have failed and for this to be done as part of an adaptive clinical trial?
As well as generating much needed clinical research, this would also mean that patients and the parents of children with cancer would have access to medicinal cannabis under the supervision of a doctor as opposed to having to self fund and medicate using drugs of often questionable quality and content.
Finally, who knows, it may end up saving lives…
If you haven’t already, please consider signing our petition to Have Cancer Treatment included in the Medicinal Cannabis Review but hurry, we only have until 4th December.
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