UK’s first specialist medical cannabis clinic opened in Manchester – could this be the vital step forward to tackle chronic and debilitating conditions?
9 March 2019, open to patients at The Beeches Consulting Centre in Manchester, UK, patients and clinicians have welcomed the first specialist medical cannabis clinic. Led by Dr David McDowell, an independent pain specialist and consultant neurologist Professor Mike Barnes will serve as Clinical Director.
The opening follows the Home Office’s decision to reschedule medical cannabis in November 2018, and is the first of a planned network of specialist clinics being opened by European Cannabis Holdings (ECH) around the UK.
From taking 13 different medications a day to just three
Dr McDowell made history in December when he issued the first prescription for medical cannabis. He has since prescribed to Forzana Nasir, 32, an Open University student from south London, who suffers from the genetic condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which leaves her in severe pain and suffering from nausea and vomiting.
Since taking medical cannabis, she has gone from taking 13 different medications a day to just three.
Commenting on the new clinic, she said: “Having access to this medicine allows me to ease my chronic pain which turns an unbearable day into a manageable day. It has been life-changing for me – I was almost bedbound before this and now I have much greater quality of life.
“It is so important that other patients in the UK who are suffering can have the same opportunity. This clinic opening is a significant step forward for healthcare in this country.”
History in the making with the first medical cannabis clinic
Hugh Thompson, Director of Fundraising and Communications at DEBRA adds: “We welcome the launch of the UK’s first medical cannabis clinic today.”
DEBRA is the national charity that supports individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), Thompson continues: “At DEBRA we are currently investing €177,200 in research to assess the safety and effectiveness of cannabinoid-based medicines as a potential treatment for the debilitating pain and itch caused by the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), and improving quality-of-life for thousands of EB sufferers.
“The current treatment options for pain and itch relief for EB sufferers usually consists of opiates anti-inflammatories. These have a very limited effect and often come with distressing and debilitating side-effects.
“It is this research, and the launch of clinics like this, which are vital first steps towards making a much more effective form of pain relief widely available to people suffering from EB.”
So, what will the clinic treat?
The medical cannabis clinic will treat patients experiencing chronic pain, many of whom currently depend on powerful and highly addictive opioids. Despite the change in law, only four patients have successfully accessed this treatment via the NHS, meaning this will act as a lifeline to those who have thus far struggled to access this treatment.
The barriers to access, which include establishing exceptional clinical circumstances, exhausting all lawful alternatives, gaining agreement from an NHS Trust Medical Director, and engaging a specialist doctor to accept liability, mean that patients are generally unable to secure this treatment via the NHS.
This new service will offer a framework under which patients can access the medication they need and alleviate avoidable suffering.
Clinics will then open in London across multiple disciplines including neurology and psychiatry in addition to chronic pain, on Harley Street, and in Birmingham, UK, later this spring.
More about the medical cannabis clinic
The clinics will specialise in innovative cannabis-based therapy and prescription cannabinoids, and be open following specialist referral to patients who have exhausted all existing treatment options, and where medical cannabis has been proven to deliver significant therapeutic benefit.
This includes potentially life-changing relief from chronic pain conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, nerve conditions, motor neuron disease, muscle cramps (spasticity); treating neurological conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; and addressing psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Commenting on the opening of the clinic, Professor Barnes said: “This clinic will represent a lifeline to those who have found other treatments ineffective. This also brings the UK into line with other countries when it comes to pain management.
“The hope is that over time patients all around the country and not just in Manchester will have access to the relief that they need.”
ECH is at the forefront of transforming treatment options for patients with chronic and debilitating conditions across the UK.
Supported by a team of world-leading medical advisors, this unrivalled group of companies take a comprehensive approach to improving access to medical cannabis for eligible patients by providing key infrastructure and educational services.
ECH’s wider portfolio of companies also includes market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners, and CBD brand house Amkeu.