NHS approves medicines containing CBD

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has approved two cannabis-based medicines containing cannabidiol (CBD) in England to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

Guidance issued by UK drugs advisory body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the substances after examining cannabis-based products for several conditions, BBC News reported on 11 November.

Doctors would be able to prescribe Epidyolex for children with two types of epilepsy – Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – which could cause multiple seizures a day.

There were an estimated 3,000 people with Dravet and 5,000 with Lennox Gastaut syndrome in England, BBC News wrote.

Clinical trials showed that the oral solution could reduce the number of seizures by up to 40%.

Epidyolex did not contain the psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Decisions on the drug availability were devolved around the UK, but NICE guidance should also apply in Wales and Northern Ireland with Scotland maybe following suit next year, BBC News reported.

The other medicine, Sativex was a mouth spray that contained a mixture of CBD and THC.

It was approved for treating muscle stiffness and spasms in multiple sclerosis but doctors were not allowed to prescribe it to treat pain.

Sativex was the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK after clinical trials and had been available on the NHS in Wales since 2014.