The National Health Service has approved two cannabis-based drugs to be used in Epilepsy and muscle spasms. Epidyloxe has been recommended for Lennox Gastaut and Dravet Syndromes, which are rare types of epilepsy. While Spray based Sativex has been approved for muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. Both the medicines have been derived from the cannabis plant. The drugs follow the guidelines of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence as well. Both medicines have been developed in the UK. Many activists have welcomed the move. However, some campaigners who have been fighting for access to cannabis-based drugs think that there is still a long way to go.
Clinical trials of the medicine have highlighted that oral solution, which contains cannabidiol can reduce the number of seizures up to 40 percent in children who are living with severe types of epilepsy Lennox Gastaut and Dravet Syndromes. Epidyloxe was initially approved for use in Europe in September itself. However, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence termed it as not value for money in the draft guidance. It initially cost around $5000 to $10000 per patient each year. After the intervention of NICE, manufacturers agreed to offer a discount on the medicine. As per the statistics, around 3000 people are suffering from Dravet Syndrome in the UK. At the same time, approximately 5000 people have been living with Lennox Gastaut syndrome in England.
Scientists have claimed that Epidyloxe does not contain the psychoactive component of cannabis THC. The other drug is called Sativex, which is a mouth spray. Sativex contains a mix of THC and cannabidiol. The mouth spray has been recommended for treating muscle stiffness and spasm. This condition is known as spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Nevertheless, the doctors will not be permitted to prescribe it to treat pain. This has been the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK after various clinical trials. It has been available on the NHS in Wales since 2014. Sativex costs around $2000 per patient in a year.