Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jan 2003
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Section: City Edition; Home News; Pg. 7
Copyright: 2003 The Irish Times
Author: Eithne Donnellan


The South Eastern Health Board confirmed yesterday it has received the 
go-ahead to import and supply cannabis extract for pain relief among cancer 
patients at Waterford Regional Hospital.

The board said it had obtained "the necessary licences" from the Irish 
Medicines Board to use the extract in clinical trials. It will be some time 
yet, however, before the trials begin.

The SEHB said the trials were at planning stage, and no supplies of the 
cannabis extract had arrived at the hospital at this point.

Dr Jane Fleming, a consultant in palliative medicine with the board, said 
research already carried out had shown the benefits of the drug for pain 
relief in multiple sclerosis sufferers.

"It is hoped that patients with cancer pain will also achieve significant 
benefit. We are very pleased to be involved with research in this area," 
she said.

She added that extract of cannabis was quite different from the cannabis 
used for so-called recreational purposes.

Waterford Regional Hospital is the second healthcare facility in the State 
to be granted a licence to import cannabis extract for pain relief. Last 
year a hospice in Cork was given permission to engage in clinical trials of 
the drug.

The trials are being done in conjunction with GW Pharmaceuticals, a UK 
drugs company. The company began trials of the drug among MS sufferers in 
the UK in 2001.

The final phase of those trials is now in progress with positive results, 
and the company expects to be granted a licence to market the drug in the 
UK later this year.

The SEHB said it would adopt rigorous selection criteria in relation to 
patients included in the trial and each would be closely monitored.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth