Today (Friday) my colleague, the Minster for Health Simon Harris, has published the Health Products Regulatory Authority’s Report: Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review.
For understandable reasons the introduction of any health product requires a great deal of research and scrutiny. While there is international research on this issue the publication of a report by the Irish agency responsible for health products is very significant.
It’s not possible for public representatives to be experts in the huge number of issues which arise each week. However, we are fortunate to have researchers and experts across a very wide range of areas in Ireland. On the issue of of cannabis-derived medication I’ve spoken to a neuro-pharmacologist who is a professor at an Irish university, and an expert on the development and impact of medications. He confirmed without doubt that, in a good number of cases, such medicines are effective.
This is confirmed by the Report from the Health Products Regulatory Authority which has looked at recent developments, the products that have been authorised abroad and the clinical research into the effectiveness of cannabis-derived medication.
The Report recommends that cannabis-derived medication be used in the treatment of MS-related spasticity, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and severe, refractory epilepsy.
Minister Harris and the Government are now working to introduce a compassionate access programme for cannabis-based treatment.
The next steps involve the consideration of this report by the Oireachtas Health Committee, consultation between the Department of Health and stakeholders on the design of the access programme, and an analysis of any changes in the law that may be necessary.