A crowdfunding campaign hopes to kickstart a key study which aims to show the cost-effectiveness of making cannabis available on the NHS.
The online crowdfunder was launched by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) on Tuesday 11 October, to raise the remaining funds needed for the development of a full health economics analysis of cannabis and chronic pain.
It hopes to demonstrate to government, regulators and clinical bodies that cannabis could be introduced to the NHS at a ‘net zero’ cost.
The project is being led by the University of York, with support from the CIC and Drug Science.
The crowdfunder aims to raise £6,000 – £8,000 to launch the project, with £12,000 worth of funding already secured.
Dr Anne Katrin Schlag, head of research at Drug Science and chair of the CIC research subgroup, said: “Many patients are successfully using cannabis-based medicinal products to treat chronic pain. Unfortunately, in the UK, medical cannabis is not available through the NHS to treat this condition, meaning that patients face significant costs to access the medicine via private healthcare.
“With our health economics analysis, we hope to show that – quite apart from improving patients’ quality of life – medical cannabis can also be cost-effective when compared to other treatments currently available.”
The research will include a comparison of costs with other treatments, and a consideration of cost and outcomes over a one-year time period.
An early economic modelling tool will be used to consider the costs, resource use and utility of prescribing medical cannabis to treat chronic pain. It is hoped the tool will demonstrate the viability of prescribing cannabis on the NHS under different scientific assumptions.
Professor Mike Barnes, chair of the CIC, commented: “We need to show that cannabis can be introduced to the NHS at net-zero cost, which I think will be the case, however, we still need to prove it.
“This study will play a vital part in the industry building the case for cannabis-based prescriptions, and we urge supporters to donate to make this a reality.”
The fundraising campaign runs initially for four weeks and can be found here https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/cannabisonnhs
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