Note to Editors
The Expert Reference Group will be chaired by Dr Mairín Ryan, Director of Health Technology Assessment at the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and will include a community pharmacist, patient representatives and a medical ethicist. In addition, it will include representatives from the following professional organisations:
The Reference Group commenced work on March 30th on drafting guidelines, in line with National Standards for Clinical Practice Guidance Development, to facilitate the prescription and supply of medicinal cannabis to qualifying patients. The group will have regard to the recent Health Products Regulatory Authority’s (HPRA) report ‘Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review’ and other international scientific evidence in developing operational guidelines for the implementation of the access programme through which the optimal use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Ireland can be implemented. It is expected the guidelines will focus on the clinical criteria for patient access; forms of medicinal cannabis that will be permitted for use; prescribing and dispensing requirements for doctors and pharmacists; education requirements for healthcare professionals and patients and ethical implications of such a scheme.
Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that he will establish a Cannabis Access Programme for cannabis-based treatments for qualifying patients following the publication of the HPRA report. As noted by the HPRA in their review, there is an absence of scientific data demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis products and the safety of cannabis as a medical treatment is not well characterised. Given these concerns, it is particularly important that the planned Cannabis Access Programmes draws on the expertise of medical specialists who are responsible for the management of the patient groups listed above. Consequently, a critical focus of the Department’s work in setting-up the Cannabis Access Programme has been engagement with clinicians, patients and pharmacists who will be central to the drawing up of guidelines on the safe use of cannabis for those patients who will be prescribed cannabis-based treatments through the Cannabis Access Programme.
The HPRA review concluded that a cannabis access programme could include access to cannabis-based therapies for the treatment of patients with:
Note to Editors