Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jul 2010
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2010 Newsquest Media Group


Health bosses are being urged to agree to prescribe a new cannabis
based drug developed for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Campaigners fear primary care trusts (PCTs) in Sussex may follow the
example of others in the South of England who have ordered doctors not
to prescribe Sativex.

They say the drug, despite being recently licensed for NHS use, is not
effective but MS patients say they should be allowed to have the drug
if they feel it would help them and are worried a postcode lottery
will emerge, with people in some areas denied it.

Shana Witcomb, 31, from Hove, was diagnosed with MS more than two
years ago.

She has to use a mobility scooter but does not let the condition take
over her life.

Ms Witcomb said: ?I know there have been loads of people with MS who
have smoked cannabis and really seem to have benefited from it.

?It does not work for everyone because the condition can affect people
in different ways but if there is a legal, properly tested drug that
can help, then that choice should be available to them.

?People are not going to want to break the law by smoking cannabis,
while others don?t like the idea of having to use tobacco with it.

?I?m surprised some PCTs are refusing to allow doctors to prescribe

?I hope the local PCTs in Sussex will agree to allow it to be used
when needed.?

Sativex, which has taken 11 years to develop, is an oral spray
designed to reduce pain.

It costs ?125 a bottle, which works out at about ?11 a day for the
average user.

At the moment, any patient in Sussex wanting to use Sativex has to
apply for special funding from their local PCT until a decision is
made about whether it can be used generally.

A spokeswoman for NHS Brighton and Hove said: ?Our prescribing
committee has not yet had the chance to consider the funding of
Sativex for patients with MS.?

Ed Holloway, head of care and services research at the MS Society,
said: ?Sativex can help to alleviate one of the most distressing
symptoms of MS and its licensing is good news for people with
progressive forms of the condition for whom drugs and therapies are

?We?d like to see it made available to anybody who might

There are about 100,000 people living with MS in the UK.
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MAP posted-by: Matt