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NHS defends decision not to fund cannabis drug

The commissioning group which refused to fund a patient's cannabis-based drug says there is a lack of evidence about the benefits of the drug.

NHS Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group said the Worcestershire Area Prescribing Committee had considered the evidence relating to Sativex for use of the treatment and the cost-effectiveness for patients.

On consideration, the Area Prescribing Committee did not consider it suitable for NHS funding due to limitations in clinical trial data and a lack of evidence of value for money for use of NHS funds.

Therefore Sativex is not recommended for use within Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups.

If new evidence becomes available, local clinicians may make a resubmission for consideration to the Worcestershire Area Prescribing Committee citing details of the new information available.

– GARY HAMMERSLEY, NHS REDDITCH AND BROMSGROVE CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUP

All the commissioning groups in the Calendar region have also refused to fund the drug.

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Charity backs campaign to end cannabis drug "postcode lottery"

A charity which supports people with Multiple Sclerosis is backing a patient who claims funding for a cannabis-based drug should be available for everybody.

Cannabis itself has been used as a medicinal treatment for hundreds of years, but is still illegal in the UK in its raw form.

Sativex is an oral spray based on cannabis
Sativex is an oral spray based on cannabis Credit: GWPharma

Yvette Hodges had the medication recommended by her GP, but the Worcestershire Area Prescribing Committee has refused to fund it. She said she is aware of a number of people who self-medicate with cannabis, through various support groups and networks online.

"I am aware that people would turn to cannabis to relieve their pain - my theory on that is, if Sativex was available, I don't think people would do that.

I think the people who are turning to that do it because they can't get the drug that they need."

– Yvette Hodges

This has led to the MS Society launching its Treat Me Right campaign to call on health bosses to review prescribing levels for people diagnosed with MS.

The society wants all NHS bodies to fund Sativex - saying it should not be based on a patient's postcode.

"For years, the government has said 'we will prosecute people who use cannabis medicinally, people should wait for the pharmaceutical product to be available and that will then be prescribed'.

Well, the product is now available, and it's not being prescribed, so that leaves people between a rock and a hard place.

People should have access to it so they're not forced to look for what is still an illegal drug."

– Nick Rijke, MS Society

Sativex is not currently funded by any of the NHS commissioning bodies in the Calendar region - they say they need more evidence that it is value for money.

Patient refused funding for cannabis drug: Why are other areas funding it?

Yvette Hodges has been refused funding for a cannabis-based drug by the NHS - despite having had it recommended by her GP.

She is currently on high levels of oral morphine to try to tackle the pain caused by Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but is keen to wean herself off the highly addictive medication as soon as possible - particularly if there is an alternative available.

The Worcestershire Area Prescribing Committee, responsible for commissioning drugs, has refused her the treatment, saying they need more evidence that it is value for money.

NHS governing bodies in the Calendar region have also refused to fund the drug. But Ms Hodges says people in other areas have been given the funding.

"Postcode lottery" for patients prescribed first cannabis-based drug

A multiple sclerosis patient has hit out at a "postcode lottery" in treatments for the condition as she battles to get funding for the UK's first licensed cannabis-based medication.

Yvette Hodges says the needs the drug Savitex
Yvette Hodges says the needs the drug Savitex Credit: ITV

Yvette Hodges, 39, had Sativex recommended to her by her neurologist as an add-on treatment to reduce the pain caused by severe spasms in her legs. The pain makes walking almost impossible.

She has to use crutches around the house, and a wheelchair when outside, as she is in danger of falling.

Ms Hodges lives in Redditch - but all NHS governing bodies in the Calendar region have also refused to fund the drug.

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Police appeal to public to report suspicious behaviour surrounding drugs

My officers acted upon concerns raised within the community and I would appeal to the public to contact the police if they have any information with regards to people who are supplying or producing controlled drugs.

– Inspector Richard Sullivan of the Pontefract and Knottingley Neighbourhood Policing Team

Cannabis farm shut down by police in Knottingley

More than 80 plants were recovered by the police during the raid Credit: West Yorkshire Police

A cannabis farm in Knottingley has been shut down by police in a drug raid.

More than 80 plants were recovered by officers who attended an address on Simpsons Lane on Monday after suspicious activity was reported to police.

All suspicious activity should be reported to police via 101.

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