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NHS to utilise first-ever cannabis-based therapies following NICE recommendation of two GW Pharma drugs

Published on 11/11/19 at 12:55pm

The NHS is authorised to use its first two cannabis-based medicines for routine use after NICE saw fit to recommend both Epidyolex (cannabidiol) oral solution and Sativex (nabiximols) from the UK’s own GW Pharmaceuticals.

As part of the ruling, Epidyolex, when combined with clobazam, is authorised in the adjunctive treatment of seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS) or Dravet syndrome in patients at least two years old. Sativex, on the other hand, has been recommended for the treatment of multiple sclerosis-related spasticity.

The decision is a ground-breaking one, as never before has a plant-derived cannabis therapy been recommended for NHS use.

In clinical trials, Epidyolex was shown to “significantly reduce” the frequency of seizures in LGS and Dravet syndrome patients, and these data led to an eventual approval by the EMA in September this year. GW is poised to launch the product in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Sativex, meanwhile, has secured approval from regulators in more than 25 countries, and was originally approved in the UK by the MHRA in 2010.

“This is a momentous occasion for UK patients and families who have waited for so many years for rigorously tested, evidenced and regulatory approved cannabis-based medicines to be reimbursed by the NHS,” said Chris Tovey, GW’s Chief Operating Officer. “This is proof that cannabis-based medicines can successfully go through extensive randomised placebo controlled trials and a rigorous NICE evaluation process to reach patients. I am hugely proud of the entire GW team for achieving this milestone in the country where the company was founded and where both of these medicines were developed and are manufactured.”

Matt Fellows

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