'High expectations among the public of the benefits of medicinal cannabis are being disappointed because doctors are unwilling to prescribe it in the knowledge that there is little evidence to stand up some of the claims, according to MPs.
A House of Commons health select committee inquiry says the hopes of patients and families were raised when the government agreed to reschedule medicinal cannabis to make it more available in the light of “the distressing cases of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell” – two children with severe epilepsy whose parents said only the drug gave them respite from seizures.
But adequate clinical trials to prove the effects of medicinal cannabis in epilepsy and other conditions have not been carried out. Without that evidence, few doctors are willing to write a prescription.
The Royal College of Physicians told the committee that “there is a perception that CBMPs [cannabis-based medicinal products] work in areas where there is little or no evidence and some patients feel they are being denied access to an efficacious drug”.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the health and social care committee, said: “Although the recent changes to government policy were welcomed, there was a failure to communicate what this would mean in practice for the availability of medicinal cannabis.
“Expectations were unfairly raised that these products would become widely and readily available, and there needs to be far clearer communication that this is not the case.”'
Read more: Doctors not prescribing medicinal cannabis due to lack of clinical trials
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