05 Sep British Doctors Call For New Chronic Pain Medicine. The Answer Is Cannabis
Last month, NICE announced its concern about paracetamol side effects and said it would no longer be recommending it for arthritis. Nearly 10 years ago, a whole class of analgesics known as COX-2 inhibitors (such as Vioxx and Celebrex) were taken off the market due to evidence they cause cardiovascular problems. Co-proxamol was withdrawn five years ago. More recently, warnings have been issued about diclofenac (Voltarol) and ibuprofen (Nurofen). GPs are also concerned about the danger inherent in increasing use of opiates.
All over the world, with the embarrassing and cruel exception of Britain, doctors are recognising the enormous benefits of cannabis in treating chronic pain. It is non-toxic, has few if any side effects, it is inexpensive (except as ludicrously overpriced Sativex) and it works very, very well. In fact, for neuropathic pain and pain that involves spasticity it is far more effective than opioids or other anti-spasmodics.
This is no hippy snake oil claim. There is a vast amount of peer reviewed, published scientific evidence that supports the efficacy and safety of cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain. Not least, double-blind, randomised trials and studies of Sativex (whole plant cannabis extract nabiximols) have shown good tolerability in long term use, limited relevant adverse effects, no cognitive impairment or negative effect on mood and no evidence of withdrawal if patients stop using it.
GPs in Britain are systematically misinformed about cannabis. Most do not understand that Sativex is a super-strength, super-concentrated version of exactly the same product that is sold on the streets. GW Pharmaceuticals spins a good story in favour of its grotesque pricing strategy. The MHRA, Home Office and successive governments are poodles of the Daily Mail which is the true arbiter of drugs policy in Britain.
Any doctor that does show interest in cannabis as medicine is swiftly bought and paid for by GW Pharmaceuticals or, as we frequently receive reports, intimidated and threatened by Home Office officials in blatant disregard of their prescribing rights.
Now more than 50% of the US population has access to medicinal cannabis. Every country in Europe permits access to medicinal cannabis except France, Ireland and Britain and Israel has a burgeoning and successful medicinal cannabis programme. UK ministers, legislators and policymakers refuse even to discuss the subject and any proposals or submissions are censored and rejected out of hand.
It is time for British GPs to stand up for their patients, face down the misinformation and corruption they are subject to and start prescribing the safe, effective medicine for chronic pain – cannabis.
Cannabis does not have to be smoked. It can be eaten, infused like tea, ingested as an oil or tincture or applied as a topical ointment. Probably the most effective, controllable and harm free method of use is medical vapourisation.
Medical marijuana dispensaries in the US already sell exact equivalents of Sativex for less than one-twentieth of the price that GW Pharma charges the NHS.
The best prescribing route for British doctors and patients is Bedrocan, the Dutch government’s official producer of medicinal cannabis which is already exported all over Europe.