People with multiple sclerosis in Galway and around the country could soon benefit from access to the world’s first prescription medicine derived from the cannabis plant.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly – responding to a parliamentary question from local Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne – says his Department is examining how medications such as Sativex – the world’s first prescription medicine derived from the cannabis plant – can be legally prescribed and dispensed in Ireland.
This is an oral spray containing ingredients called ‘cannabinoids’ which are extracted from cannabis plants, grown under strict controls and in compliance with the law. It is primarily used in the treatment of MS and to combat cancer pain.
Deputy Kyne says the Minister is displaying “great foresight” and “progressive thinking” by examining the licencing of such medication.
“Both the UK and Canada have recently licensed Sativex following positive and encouraging results in clinical trials. I initially raised this issue with Minister Reilly after I’d been contacted by constituents with friends and relatives who suffer from MS. Some have been using cannabis for alleviating the pain associated with MS in fear and, it has to be noted, in contravention of the law as it currently stands.
“Clearly careful consideration must be given before any decision to licence medication derived from substances ordinarily associated with illicit drugs can be taken. I believe that the licensing of a medication such as Sativex would represent a major step forward as it has been medically proven to successfully alleviate some of the more debilitating symptoms of MS such as spasticity.
“It’s hoped that with the necessary legislative work, as well as consultation with stakeholders, Sativex would be available on prescription by the end of the year. Such availability would undoubtedly help people with MS in Galway and around the country.”
By Mary O’connor