UK National Health Service Watchdog Says More Proof Needed That Cannabis Epilepsy Treatment Works – LPC

Children in the UK denied cannabis epilepsy treatment. Here\'s why.
Hannah Deacon and her son Alfie.

Despite pushback from parents, the UK National Health Service (NHS) won’t back a cannabis epilepsy treatment. That’s based on the recommendation of health watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). Parents and campaigners said this decision will contribute to unnecessary suffering.

As usual, the reasons behind the decision to block CBD drugs are complex. But they amount to unknown risks and lack of evidence that cannabis epilepsy treatment works.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people using cannabis-based medicines across the world,” said Hannah Deacon. Her son, Alfie Dingley, is one of only two patients to have a prescription for medical cannabis to treat their condition. “It’s having an enormously positive impact on their health. Many countries have legalized medical cannabis industries – America, Canada and other G7 countries. They see the evidence is good enough. The UK is insisting on reinventing the wheel for no reason and the people who are suffering are patients.”

Dr. Catherine Jacobson, a neuroscientist in the US, found that CBD remedies helped her son with epilepsy. Now that hemp has been legalized in the US, CBD-based medications are legal in theory. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would technically need to approve medical use. That CBD regulatory framework is coming as well, the FDA says. A cannabis epilepsy treatment could fall through the cracks as many cannabis-based medicines do in the US. That’s because cannabis is legal at the state level, but not at the federal area. CBD medications land in a legal grey area.

Why the Delay in Approving CBD Medications in the UK? – LPC

In the UK, doctors have the same concerns about CBD as they do everywhere. Here are people who spend a good portion of their lives studying to become health experts. It’s worth listening to what they have to say. Doctors opposed to cannabis epilepsy treatment aren’t convinced that the results outweigh the risks. The effects of CBD on children are not well understood, though cannabis can affect brain development. Doctors who wish to do no harm want to understand those risks better.

On the other hand, doctors for cannabis epilepsy treatment say there is enough non-scientific data to okay the drug. In severe cases of epilepsy, children can have 50 or more seizures per day. It’s hard to imagine based on the data available right now that the long-term effects of CBD could be worse.

Still, the concerns of the doctors against the drug are valid. Perhaps the answer is to create a system referring patients to doctors specializing in CBD medications. These doctors would be more comfortable prescribing cannabis epilepsy treatment – and treatments for MS, chronic pain, and other conditions. They would also be more aware of the risks, and be able to better advise their patients.

This editorial content from the LPC News Editor is meant to provide analysis, insight, and perspective on current news articles. To read the source article this LPC commentary is based upon, please click on the link below.

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