NICE publishes draft scope for new guideline on cannabis medicine

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a draft scope for its upcoming guidelines on cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

Out for consultation between 13 November 2018 and 4 December 2018, the draft scope is aimed primarily at healthcare professionals prescribing cannabis-based medicinal products, along with those taking care of people taking cannabis-based medicinal products.

The document considers the use of these products in line with the General Medical Council’s guidance on prescribing unlicensed medicines for people with chronic pain, intractable nausea and vomiting, spasticity and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

This will correlate with NICE’s existing published guidance for the management of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and motor neurone disease, which may be relevant.

The document confirms that smoked cannabis and cannabis supplements, such as those marketed as food products, are excluded from the guideline.

Due to be published in October 2019, the NICE guidance ultimately looks at the effectiveness and safety of cannabis-based medicinal products, taking into consideration the clinical and – of course! – “cost effectiveness” in relation to side effects, potential interactions and overall risks.

It will also consider what support is needed to help prescribers and patients make decisions about cannabis-based medicinal products, as well as the prescribing requirements, such as who should be able to prescribe and dispense these medicines.

The guideline will also include an equality impact assessment relating to age, pregnant and breast-feeding women, physical disability, learning disability and mental health problems.

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