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Over 1,000 patients treated at Scotland medical cannabis clinic

Sapphire Medical is marking the one year anniversary of the opening of Scotland’s first and only medical cannabis clinic.



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The clinic is based in Stirling, but sees patients remotely across Scotland

One year since the opening of Scotland’s first medical cannabis clinic, Sapphire Medical reveals over 1,000 patients have benefited from the treatment.

On Tuesday 22nd March, Sapphire Medical Clinics marked the one year anniversary of the opening of Scotland’s first and only medical cannabis clinic.

Based in Stirling, but seeing patients remotely across Scotland, the landmark treatment centre has helped over a thousand patients in the first year of operation. 

Patients across Scotland have accessed medical cannabis for treatment resistant conditions including chronic pain, insomnia, generalised anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia. 

Recently the Clinic became the first medical cannabis clinic in Scotland to receive a ‘Good’ rating from Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Sapphire Medical was praised for its “patient-centred and proactive approach” and “systems to support good clinical governance”.  

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018 which has allowed cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) to be prescribed by medical experts if licensed treatments have been tried without providing adequate symptom relief.

Within this framework approved by relevant regulatory authorities, Sapphire Medical’s aim is to enable safe access to medical cannabis.

GPs can refer patients or patients can self-refer themselves directly to Sapphire Medical. 

Dr Mikael Sodergren, managing director of Sapphire Medical Clinics, explains the process after a patient has their first appointment.

Once the patient has been seen by a specialist, their needs are discussed at a multi-disciplinary meeting with a range of experts, including specialists from psychiatry and neurology, to decide whether medical cannabis is appropriate for each patient,” he says.

“If it is decided the patient is a good candidate for medical cannabis, a management plan is personalised to their specific health needs. A prescription is then sent to a specialist pharmacy, who then send the medication directly to the patient’s home.”

Dr Sodergren, continues: “As Scotland’s only Healthcare Improvement Scotland registered medical cannabis clinic, we have received over 3,000 referrals for our service across Scotland and we have over 1,000 active Scottish patients on the Sapphire Access Scheme.

The Sapphire Access Scheme allows patients to benefit from significantly cheaper appointment costs as they contribute to our Real World Evidence platform.”

In fact, 93 per cent of patients are benefiting from this subsidised programme, paying only £50 per appointment with a highly experienced medical professional.

On average a chronic pain patient would pay £135 a month inclusive of appointments and medication. Through this progressive scheme, patients are regularly monitored and take part in providing Real-World Evidence about changes to their health-related outcomes.

Data from Scotland

An analysis on Scottish patients from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, the largest bespoke registry of outcomes for patients prescribed medical cannabis in the UK, has recently been submitted for presentation at the 31st Annual International Cannabinoid Research Society Conference (ICRS 2022).

The average age of patients enrolled on the Registry is 43-years-old. Over half (54 per cent) of patients identify as male. The most common conditions for which patients are receiving treatment are chronic non-cancer pain (36 per cent), fibromyalgia (11 per cent), anxiety (10 per cent), and neuropathic pain (seven per cent).

The study found that in the first six months of treatment with medical cannabis, Scottish patients experienced significant improvements in health-related quality of life, anxiety, and sleep quality.

Carol, 53, from Edinburgh, first started suffering with back pain when she was 11-years-old. It was caused by a bulging disk in her back which worsened as she got older and led her to give up her dream of becoming a gymnastic champion.

“The pain gradually got worse through my teens and early twenties and when paired with flare ups of fibromyalgia, it became unbearable. As a result, I was on an extremely high dose of morphine for the best part of 15 years,” says Carol.

“Every aspect of my life was affected – my social life, my work life and most of all my sleep. I don’t think I ever slept more than 2 hours a night as I was either in pain or would have to walk about the house to stretch out my back and legs. I became so depressed and completely lost my purpose in life. At times, I didn’t want to be here.”

She continues: “I had physio for many years and taken probably every opioid under the sun so thought my options were running out until I saw someone on television talking about medical cannabis and I was intrigued. I went to my GP who referred me to the Sapphire Medical in Scotland and said he would 100 per cent support me in my decision to
come off the opioids for good.”

Kenny, 57, lives with his wife in East Kilbride. As an administrative civilian for Police Scotland, Kenny was given early retirement in 2013 as a result of chronic nerve pain caused by long term type 1 diabetes and psychological “burn-out”. Kenny also suffers with Dupuytren’s Contractures in both hands.

“I missed out on holding my first grandchild due to my condition and felt anxious about not being able to do my fair
share in retirement,” adds Kenny.

“My wife and extended family remark that I’m a transformed person without the pain as I’m less withdrawn, take part in family a lot more and my anxiety levels have dropped remarkably.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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