There is growing interest in cannabis-based preparations produced for medicinal use in humans.
Their use is still in its infancy in the UK, which impacts both on their availability and associated evidence base. HSC will continue to be informed by best practice, including clinical guidance produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regarding their use, and their funding, locally.
The law in place in Guernsey allows local doctors to prescribe products privately which are manufactured to a pharmaceutical standard. It is also possible for islanders to obtain prescriptions from the UK and arrange for the importation of products in to the Bailiwick.
Availability of medicinal cannabis locally
- Clear processes are in place locally to ensure equitable, evidence-based decisions are made regarding the availability of drugs for islanders. This ensures that limited funds are used to best effect. These processes are kept under review. Further information is on the following page https://gov.gg/whitelist.
- At present three cannabis-based medicinal products are available to islanders. Epidyolex for specialist initiation for two rare types of treatment-resistant epilepsy is included on the Prescribing List. It is possible for Consultant Neurologists to make an application for funding for Sativex for certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Another cannabis-based medicinal product, Nabilone, is on the Prescribing List for intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
- This is in line with the clinical guidance produced by NICE. Applications for funding in the future will be considered on the same process.
- Based on current evidence, HSC will not consider funding cannabis-based medicinal products for people with chronic pain, as this is not supported by NICE. It is acknowledged that individual patients may report benefits from the use of some products for pain and other conditions. However NICE has reported that the potential benefits offered are small compared with the high and ongoing costs, and that the products were not an effective use of NHS resources.
- The next section covers the processes for obtaining cannabis-based medicinal products on a private prescription.
Arranging private prescriptions
- Bailiwick residents are now able to privately access prescribed medicinal cannabis products in the UK and arrange for the lawful importation of these products into the Islands. Individuals looking to do so should identify UK specialists with the appropriate expertise and experience who will work with them to assess whether a prescription is appropriate in the particular circumstances. Due to the limited evidence base and their unlicensed nature, even in the UK only a small proportion of doctors listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council prescribe cannabis products, and islanders may wish to consider using specific clinics. Islanders will be individually responsible for all costs incurred.
- Any individual obtaining a prescription for medicinal cannabis products from the UK are strongly advised to inform their GP and any other clinicians involved in their care locally. This will ensure that any decision regarding their wider care takes into account that a private prescription of medicinal cannabis has been issued.
- Prescribed medicinal cannabis can be lawfully imported into the Bailiwick by following the process attached to this page. Seeking to import a product without the necessary licences being in place is a criminal offence. Further advice on importation may be sought from the document in the downloads section of this page.