The House of Commons Select Committee report on medicinal cannabis, published on 3 July 2019, makes a number of recommendations, aimed at increasing research in the field of medical cannabis and in particular, recommending that resources immediately be made available for a programme of clinical trials for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. It is perhaps no real surprise that the Committee did not recommend cannabis medicines could be exempt from randomised double blind controlled trials (RCTs), but based on the evidence submitted manufacturers may face a challenge in this regard. The normal pharmaceutical approach is to compare a single molecule to a placebo, if as suggested, it is not a trial that could be undertaken with the cannabis plant then an alternative process may be required for the approval of medicinal cannabis products. The recommendations of the report are encouraging overall but caution remains around the use of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs). The UK can learn from other EU member states on this, as the report suggests, but for now at least it is advocating a more careful approach following doctors' concerns about a lack of evidence to support prescribing CBMPs for certain conditions. Providing financial incentives for companies to undertake R&D will advance the clinical research that is called for, yet the oft-cited roadblock of acquiring patents for medicinal cannabis based products still remains. This practical reality highlights the disconnect between Government and business in this nascent industry. The report is welcomed as an advancement of the discussion, but it also acknowledges the discrepancy between public perception and the scope in which Government will provide access.'
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