There was a fascinating written question in the House of Commons last week that provides an insight into the reality of Sativex prescribing in Britain.
It also reveals a dreadful failure of understanding by the minister of state for health, Simon Burns, the Tory MP for Chelmsford.
The question came from Ben Gummer (Ipswich, Conservative) and asked how many PCTs prescribed nabiximols between April and November last year.
Nabiximols is what is called a “non-proprietary name” for Sativex. It isn’t the generic name and this is the nub of the issue. Astonishingly Simon Burns referred to: “…prescriptions for “Sativex” or its generic alternative delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol…”. This is completely wrong of course.
The GW Pharma/Home Office deception is that Sativex is an extract of THC and CBD. Simon Burns couldn’t even get the lie right. The only accurate way to describe Sativex in generic terms is “cannabis”.
A statement from the American Medical Association about the name nabiximols is false and inaccurate as it describes it as containing solely THC and CBD.
However, on a positive note, Simon Burns’ answer does show that Sativex is prescribed throughout Britain but in very low quantities. Interestingly the most prescriptions are in the home counties of Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.
I haven’t had time to analyse this data in more detail so I hope that others will look at it in depth. Clearly the “ban” that has been alleged isn’t true. We need to drill down and find out what is happening in more detail in each PCT. This is exactly the idea of the Access Sativex initiative by CLEAR and Action4MS. We hope to report in more detail shortly.
The data are available at the link to the question.