A group of medical practitioners specializing in pain management disagrees with the Health Product Regulatory Authority (HPRA) on chronic pain and cannabis.
The HPRA recently published a report recommending the conditions and grounds of compassion on which cannabis may be prescribed. The report recommended access should only be given to MS patients, those suffering nausea from chemotherapy and some patients with epilepsy.
Chronic pain doesn’t feature. The Irish Examiner spoke to members of the Pain Society to get their views.
Chronic pain and cannabis: no compassionate access?
Prof David P Finn, president of the Irish Pain Society, said the report was well researched and written. He considered it a contribution adding value to the debate on cannabinoids and medical marijuana. He also praised the HPRA for putting together such a thorough piece of work in such a short period of time.
But, he says that the Irish Pain Society’s executive committee would suggest that pain specialists or consultants should be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana, or medicines containing cannabinoids, to patients with chronic pain.
The committee says government should allow cannabis for those suffering from cancer pain, pain that doesn’t respond to regular painkillers, and those who experience unpleasant side effects from painkillers. The link between cannabis and chronic pain relief is not a new one.
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A child gets passed by
Vera Twomey is also understandably unhappy with the outcome of the HPRA report. She was instrumental in bringing the issue of compassionate access to the attention of Health Minister, Simon Harris.
Young Ava, Vera’s daughter, has a rare kind of epilepsy, but the report hasn’t recommended cannabis, even though it was mom Vera’s protest walk that brought the matter under scrutiny. Now that Ava is denied access, her mom is resuming her walk from Cork to the Dáil. She says Health Minister Harris must change the law to save her child.
A few days ago, an Irish-based cannabis company helped Charlotte Caldwell, mother of an epileptic child, to get medicine that will save his life. She was immensely grateful, and wished that other parents of epileptic children could share her joy. But for Vera and Ava, the battle for compassionate access is far from over.
Trials show how effective cannabis-based medicines can prevent seizures in epilepsy patients. There is actually no reason why Ava can’t be accommodated and given what she needs. After all, CBD wouldn’t even make her high!
There must be some mistake…
Let’s hope there is some misunderstanding or glitch in the system. The HPRA must rethink its stance on chronic pain and cannabis, and moms like Vera deserve a chance to help children like Ava.
Although Ireland is moving towards medical cannabis, it is doing so in baby steps leaving many behind in its wake. Is it showing unnecessary caution? When regular medicines don’t work, why can’t people try cannabis? And when it comes to medical cannabis containing mainly CBD, where’s the potential for harm? The HRPA must address these questions and many more that remain unanswered in its report.