The first major trial of medicinal cannabis in the UK has been launched, with 20,000 patients set to test its impact.
In November 2018, medicinal marijuana was legalised across Britain. However, the drug isn’t routinely available due to concerns over its benefits, stemming from a lack of research.
However, its efficacy will soon be made clear thanks to a new study named Project Twenty21.
The study will subsidise cannabis for up to 20,000 patients to test its impact on seven conditions: chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS), epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Tourette’s, anxiety and drug addiction.
Professor David Nutt, from the charity Drug Science – which launched the project on Thursday (November 7), said their research will ‘provide a solid clinical database for other medical prescribers to build on’.
Prof Nutt told Sky News:
I believe cannabis is going to be the most important innovation in medicine for the rest of my life. Cannabis medicines can be life-saving in disorders like severe childhood epilepsy.
There are children who have died in this country in the last couple of years because they haven’t had access to cannabis. It’s outrageous, it’s unnecessary and we want to rectify it.
Due to its current lack of availability, people looking to take medicinal marijuana have either had to source it illegally or pay a large amount of money for private healthcare.
Data from the study will be collected every three months in order to measure the drug’s efficacy and safety, as well as collating patient-reported feedback.
Chloe Sakal, director of Project Twenty21, said Drug Science are ‘working hard to make’ the drug affordable – but a big aim of the study is to give clinicians support, the Pharmaceutical Journal reports.
Medical cannabis has been legal to prescribe for a year now; one of the reasons we’re doing this is to help clinicians feel supported.
We get requests from doctors every day saying they want to use it with their patients, but they don’t know how to write the prescription. We want them to feel like it’s okay [to prescribe medical cannabis] and that they’re supported [to do so].
While clinical watchdog NICE believes medicinal marijuana shouldn’t be readily prescribed due to the lack of evidence it actually has any benefit, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has backed Twenty21, saying they hope it continues to build further evidence in support of the drug.
As reported by the MailOnline, Professor Wendy Burn, president of the RCP, said:
The College welcomes this pilot project which it hopes will make an important contribution towards addressing the paucity of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicinal products.
We hope that this pilot, along with other research such as more much-needed randomised control trials, will continue to build the evidence.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.