Doctors have been warned against rushing to prescribe medical cannabis despite Australians’ acceptance of its use.
To date, the evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis remains “limited”, said Jennifer Martin and Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo in an editorial for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).
Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the editorial says the usual regulatory processes designed to protect patients from potential serious harms caused by medicinal cannabinoids must be adhered to.
In Australia, medicinal cannabis is legal but patient access is still very difficult.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Special Access Scheme (SAS) provides patient access to cannabis on compassionate grounds without the usual quality and safety data requirements.
This means approval is granted on a case-by-case basis provided the correct documentation is given by the prescribing doctor, says Dr. John Lawson, a pediatric neurologist and conjoint senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales.
A recent trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine, led by Australian neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer, found cannabidiol – one of at least 113 compounds found in the cannabis plant – significantly reduced the severity and frequency of seizures in children with a rare, yet devastating form of epilepsy known as a Dravet syndrome.
Last year, the Medical Cannabis Council called for more robust research to be done to ensure patients greater access in the future.
Read the full article in The Guardian