Analyst: New UK Cannabis Regulations Limit Usage, Call For Additional Research

New guidelines issued in the United Kingdom for the consumption and prescription of cannabis issued by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence fell short of expectations, according to Cantor Fitzgerald. 

Benzinga · 11/14/2019 20:49

New guidelines issued in the United Kingdom for the consumption and prescription of cannabis issued by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence fell short of expectations, according to Cantor Fitzgerald. 

What Happened

The guidelines are an example of the challenges that Canadian LPs and others could face in key European markets, analyst Pablo Zuanic said in a Tuesday note. 

Per the guidelines, only people who suffer from two rare types of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome, will be able to access GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR's (NASDAQ: GWPH) cannabis-derived drug Epidiolex through the NHS.

Why It’s Important

This translates to only 8,000 to 9,000 patients out of a population of 500,000 who suffer from other types of epilepsy in the U.K., the analyst said. 

NICE's defense of the new protocol is a lack of evidence of the benefits cannabis provides to people affected by long-term pain, he said. 

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The two dominant institutional complications to medical cannabis prescriptions are as follows, according to the consultants Hanway Associates, Zuanic said:

“A lack of clinical evidence, thanks to the decades-long restrictions on medical cannabis research there are strong arguments for accepting an alternative burden of proof or prescription framework for CBMPs.”

“The high cost of medical cannabis reduces the likelihood of NHS access.”

NICE has issued essential research suggestions in five areas, including CBD as a treatment for enduring neuropathic pain; the effect of a THC/CBD combination treatment on seizures; and CBMPs for those who suffer from spasticity, Zuanic said. 

"Clinical research will be vital to ensure that any treatment recommended for use in the NHS is safe and effective."