Connect with us

News

Campaigner responds to Irish doctors proposal to shun MCAP

Irish doctors have expressed concerns over the scheme, designed to improve access to medical cannabis

Published

on

MCAP programme: neurologists holds a yellow bottle of oil with a dropper against a lab coat
Nine neurologists have written to Ireland's Health Minister expressing concern over the products

High profile campaigner Vera Twomey has responded to neurologists who expressed concern over products likely to be offered through the Medical Cannabis Access Programme.

Doctors treating patients with epilepsy appear to be planning to shun the Irish Government’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP).

Several neurologists and patient organisations have written to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly with concerns about the products being made available under the scheme, citing fears they are “inappropriate” and “potentially harmful”.

Widespread concern

As reported by the Irish Times, the letter states:

“Not only is there a lack of evidence to support the use of THC in epilepsy, but there are significant concerns regarding its psychiatric and cognitive effects, particularly when used in children.”

All four products accepted for the programme contain THC, with those behind the letter concerned that the risks associated with THC compounds are under-appreciated.

The neurologists say that because of widespread concern, the programme now runs the risk of not being used.

The letter continued: “Because there is widespread concern about the programme among neurologists in Ireland (because inappropriate and potentially harmful products will be available through the programme), the programme runs the risk of not being utilised.”

However, despite being introduced in 2019, the MCAP still not operational. The pilot programme is set to run for five years although it is unclear if this will be extended as a result of Covid-19 disruption.

Read more: Ireland to fund patient’s medical cannabis upfront

Supply issues

There are currently no cannabis-based products available under the programme or any patients registered with the scheme.

READ MORE  Bringing cannabis-based medicine to the mainstream

One product has been approved for potential patients but doctors have expressed concern that the THC level is too high for a starting cannabinoid treatment for epilepsy patients. Another product has been deemed suitable by doctors, but as it is UK-manufactured there would need to be a change in legislation before it was made accessible in Ireland.

The HSE has reported that one supplier is now no longer interested in the Irish market. The products were due to be available in October or November this year but it is thought this could be pushed back due to the country of manufacture being changed.

Read more: Calls for reform to Ireland’s cannabis laws as hundreds prepare to protest

Patient response


Campaigner and mother Vera Twomey has spoken out about her concerns regarding the letter.

In a social media post, referring to how her daughter condition was improved through full extract cannabis oil, she said: “Twenty to 30 or 40 seizures a day or more eliminated by CBD and THC. The threat of further brain damage was removed almost completely. The thought that a negative campaign towards such a remarkable medication as CBD and THC is in full flow within our Republic of Ireland is a complete and utter disgusting travesty.

READ MORE  UCLA receives US$6.4 million to fund cannabis research

“The thought that families will be scared off exploring the option of THC medication by such extraordinary and unjustified measures such as refusing to acknowledge the programme set up to prescribe CBD and THC medication is one of the most destructive steps I have seen in seven years and smacks of desperation to stop access to cannabis medication.”

She added: “It is clear that the public is aware and informed of the benefits of medical cannabis because if they were not consultants would not be trying to create more barriers to access. I applaud the consultants sensible enough to prescribe this life-saving medication. I do not want to consider in much detail the real reasons why other consultants do not.”

Enrolment

There are plans to start enrolling patients on a cannabis medical use register once documentation is finalised. The department is currently working on this alongside specialists.

Twomey’s daughter Ava, is one of approximately 63 patients accessing medical cannabis in Ireland using the ministerial licence.

Until the start of the pandemic, patients had to travel to the Netherlands to import the drug back to Ireland. It is now sent directly as a result of disruption to travel. Earlier this year it was announced that cannabis medication would no longer need to be reimbursed from the HSE but would be funded upfront.

There are currently three conditions that qualify for medical cannabis in Ireland: severe epilepsy, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea associated with chemotherapy. But patient organisations and activists say this does not go far enough and that there needs to be the inclusion of chronic pain patients.

READ MORE  Supreme champion: The top boxer behind leading CBD brand

Cannabis Health has approached HSE and the doctors involved for comment.

Epilepsy

CBGA may be ‘more potent’ than CBD against seizures in Dravet syndrome

Dr Lyndsey Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.

Published

on

Seizure: A row of test tubes containing CBGA oil with a doctors white gloved hand holding one up to the light

Scientists say they have found the ‘Mother of all cannabinoids’ which may help to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome.

A new study on mice from the University of Sydney found that three acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis reduced seizures in Dravet syndrome, an intractable form of childhood epilepsy.

The three cannabinoids are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA), cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA). All three but CBGA in particular “may contribute to the effects of cannabis-based products in childhood epilepsy” noted the researchers and were found to potentially have ‘anticonvulsant properties.”

The study marks the first time that three acidic cannabinoids were found to potentially help reduce seizures for Dravet syndrome.

Speaking with Cannabis Health News, the lead author of the study, Dr Lyndsey Anderson, said: “We found that CBGA exhibited both anticonvulsant and pro-convulsant effects. CBGA was more potent than CBD against febrile seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We also found that a combination of CBGA and clobazam was more effective than either treatment alone. Additionally, we found that CBGA was anticonvulsant in the maximal electroshock acute seizure model, a model for generalized tonic-clonic seizures.”

She added: “CBGA did, however, present some proconvulsant effects. The frequency of spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome was increased with a high dose of CBGA. Also, CBGA was proconvulsant in the 6-Hz acute seizure model, a model of focal, psychomotor seizures.”

Although CBGA shows promise, Dr Anderson also stressed that it needs more research before it can replace CBD. She cautioned that Dravet syndrome patients may still need to proceed with caution.

READ MORE  "A small step forward - at long last": Campaigners react to Italian home cultivation reform

“Artisanal cannabis-based products are believed to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome patients,” she said. “As these oils contain rare cannabinoids like CBGA, it is possible CBGA then contributes to the anticonvulsant effects of these artisanal cannabis oils. However, there were proconvulsant effects observed with CBGA, suggesting that Dravet syndrome patients may need to proceed with caution. The proconvulsant liability of CBGA would need to be addressed before it replaced CBD as an anticonvulsant.”

What is CBGA?

Sometimes referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids,’ CBGA is the precursor molecule to many different cannabinioids including CBD and THC. It is thought to help some diseases such as colon cancer, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid much like CBD.

Dr Anderson explains that more research is needed to explain how the three cannabinoids work together.

“We don’t know how they work together yet,” she said. “We found that CBGA, CBDVA and CBGVA were all individually anticonvulsant against thermally induced seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We did not investigate whether a combination of these three cannabinoids would result in a greater anticonvulsant effect than either cannabinoid alone. Future work will definitely explore this possibility.”  

CBGA future research

This isn’t the end of the research into CBGA for Dravet Syndrome. Dr Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.

 

She said: “Next on the horizon for this research is to explore whether the anticonvulsant properties of CBDVA and CBGVA translate to other seizure types including spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Additionally, we have extensively interrogated the anticonvulsant potential of individual cannabinoids and identified ten with anticonvulsant properties.”

READ MORE  Cannabis and nausea - THC is better for symptom relief than CBD

 

“We are now interested in investigating what happens when we combine these anticonvulsant properties. It remains an open possibility that greater anticonvulsant effects are achieved when the cannabinoids are administered in combination.”

The study was recently published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (DOI: 10.1111/bph.15661)

Continue Reading

Industry

New York regulators vote to allow home grow for medical cannabis patients

The new regulations would allow medical cannabis patients and carers in the state a safe, cost-effective way to access their medication

Published

on

New York: The statue of Liberty against a blue sky and the skyline of New York city

The proposed regulations would allow medical cannabis patients and carers in New York to grow up to six plants, indoors or outdoors, for therapeutic use.

New York cannabis regulators voted unanimously for the proposed regulations which would not only allow qualified patients to grow their own plants.

According to a slide from the Cannabis Control Board presentation, patients would be allowed six plants each but carers with more than one patient,  can “cultivate 1 additional cannabis plant for each subsequent patient.”

The new regulations would impose a duty on patients to ensure no one under the age of 21 can access the plants or any products cultivated from them.

Landlords would also have the option to prohibit their tenants from growing cannabis on their property if they chose. The products must not be processed using anything other than alcohol.

The regulations will now have a 60-day public commentary period before review.

Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) said: “We are proud to present those proposed regulations. The home cultivation of medical cannabis will provide certified patients with a cost-effective means of obtaining cannabis through personal cultivation while creating a set of standards governing the conduct and activities relating to the personal cultivation of cannabis.”

In a press release, the CCB also gave an update on the expungement of cannabis convictions. “Approximately 203,000 cannabis-related charges are presently being suppressed from criminal background searches and are in process of being expunged, adding to the approximately 198,000 records that were expunged as part of the first round of cannabis expungement following legislation enacted in 2019.”

READ MORE  Supreme champion: The top boxer behind leading CBD brand

New York recreational market

Earlier this year, New York. It would become the 16th US state to legalise recreational cannabis creating thousands of jobs and tax revenue. The bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March.

The law would allow for possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for personal use. It would allow licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis products to those over 21.

Neighbouring states who have already legalised marijuana, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, meant that New York citizens were leaving to access cannabis losing tax revenue in the process.

It is expected that home grow for recreational users will follow the proposed regulations for medical cannabis patients but only after the new market is established.

Read more: California governor signs Ryan’s Law to allow medical cannabis use in hospitals

Continue Reading

News

CiiTECH announces new CPD-accredited training course

It aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

Published

on

Ciitech academy
The course aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

Cannabis healthcare company CiiTECH has been awarded CPD accreditation for its academy course, which aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

CiiTECH’s Cannabis Science and Therapeutics course has had tremendous success after launching the course earlier this year.

The new and innovative course offers an interactive digital platform with a 12 chapter syllabus comprising of medical cannabis, CBD knowledge and information, specifically catered for healthcare professionals in the UK.

Industry experts in the UK could potentially face serious challenges if the trainers in question who are both recommending, and dispensing information are not up to the required standards in the field.

People currently working in the industry, such as pharmacy professionals will feel more secure and confident after taking the course. With such an array of knowledge from the experts, they are better able to recommend, treat and understand benefits and causes of their patients.

Besides all the learning and comprehensive information, simple FAQ questions by patients can be simply downloaded to have at hand as an ongoing reference.

The CBD industry is an extremely fast growing market, people are becoming more and more aware of benefits and common usage. It’s said that by 2025 the market in the UK only will be worth over £3 billion.

This means that clinics and pharmacies must be sourcing trustworthy information to their customers.

This course is aimed at filling an education gap in the market, by covering several points in intricate detail, from plant history to dosing, and patient care. A lot of occupations in the UK require an on going learning process each year, with positive results overtime, leading to a greater service in the industry.

“Through years of experience serving UK customers with our portfolio of CBD brands it was abundantly clear that the level of misinformation was enormous and confusing for everyone involved,” says Clifton Flack, CEO and founder of CiiTECH.

“Formal education is always important but with little to no existence in the UK we could not see a better way to help lead the industry than to establish our own online academy and give healthcare professionals the opportunity to not only learn about cannabis therapeutics but to earn further education points at the same time.”

Flack adds: “With the rise in UK cannabis prescriptions and CiiTECH’s long awaited move into the THC medical cannabis arena, now is the time to increase professional education and it is exactly why we have embarked on this education journey. CiiTECH is fast becoming the UK’s one stop shop for all your cannabis needs; research, education, consumer brands.”

CiiTECH collaborated with Medical Cannabis Mentor to produce the course and prepare it for CPD certification.

Joe Dolce, founder and CEO of Medical Cannabis Mentor, comments: “The course synthesises the most up-to-date scientific research and clinical guidelines in an engaging format to help professionals make informed treatment decisions.”

The course can be found on https://cpduk.co.uk/ or for pricing and registration visit:  https://ciitech.academy

CBD and CBG: A black banner saying that the content has been created with sponsors

READ MORE  Study: Cannabis as effective or “superior” to other anticancer drugs
Continue Reading

Trending

Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

Copyright © 2021 H&W Media Ltd.