Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority working group has released a report outlining its recommendations for medical cannabis access in the country, which include just three qualifying conditions – multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Dr. Lorraine Nolan, HRPA chief executive, said the limited scope of the program is partly due to insufficient clinical data, and the agency’s desire to be able to authorize cannabis as a medicine as soon as it can “meet the same regulatory standards as that of every other medicine on the market.”
“As we are not yet at that point, permitting access to cannabis for medical use is ultimately a societal and policy decision which has to balance the lack of scientific evidence against patient-led demand,” Nolan said in a statement. “As things currently stand, if cannabis products are to be made available through an access program, it will be important that patients and healthcare professionals are aware of the limitations that will apply. The safety, quality and effectiveness of these products cannot be guaranteed or compared with the standards that apply for an authorized medicine.”
The recommendations from Minister for Health Simon Harris also suggest that any cannabis therapies be conducted under the close watch of a physician, and both doctors and pharmacists be facilitated in prescribing and dispensing.
Harris is expected to announce plans for “compassionate access program” in the coming weeks.