Medicinal cannabis gets the green light for some conditions
Patients deemed suitable for medicinal cannabis treatment will find it easier to access by the autumn, Health Minister Simon Harris has said.
He was speaking after he signed legislation allowing companies making medicinal cannabis products to supply the Irish market.
The scheme allows people with certain conditions to be prescribed the product by their consultant after they have exhausted all other treatments.
It is being run as a pilot scheme over five years.
"Once suitable medical cannabis products are made available by suppliers, the access programme will make it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe a listed cannabis-based treatment for a patient under his or her care for medical conditions, where the patient has failed to respond to standard treatments," the minister said.
The Department of Health said patients with a specified medical condition should see their medical consultant for advice.
The included conditions are:
• Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis;
• Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy;
• Severe, refractory treatment-resistant epilepsy.
"Ultimately it will be the decision of the medical consultant, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe a particular treatment, including a cannabis-based treatment, for a patient under their care," the minister said.
A prospective supplier can apply to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), on behalf of the minister, to have a product considered for inclusion in the schedule of 'specified controlled drugs' in this new piece of legislation.
But people with chronic pain are excluded from eligibility.
A controlled drugs licence, processed by the HPRA, on behalf of the minister, is also required for possession, supply or import of such cannabis products.
It will only be possible for specialist consultants to prescribe a specified controlled drug under the access programme once suppliers make these products available on the Irish market.
Practitioners will be able to prescribe cannabis for medical use to patients as set out in the legislation.