By Roland Sebestyén
An ex-banker is heading up a German-based firm that specialises in cannabis products to treat chronic pain and help patients who have been let down by traditional treatments.
According to Daily Record, Neil Smith, 56, of Scone, the chairman of Eurox Pharma and CEO of the Integro Medical Clinic, wants to offer people with severe medical conditions a chance to live a normal life again.
With access to businesses at every step of the supply chain, from a cannabis cultivation site in Portugal to the company’s processing and manufacturing site near Frankfurt in Germany, the company is well-positioned to do just that.
He said: “I started doing it essentially as a business opportunity, but when I started to work in it, I saw the amazing impact cannabis medicines can have on life.”
However, Mr Smith said they can’t promise medical cannabis to the families of children suffering from epilepsy as it is difficult to find doctors to prescribe the drug.
They focus on adult patients with a number of conditions – including those in end-of-life care.
Mr Smith added: “People in their last days are on super-strong meds but switching to cannabis meds allows them to enjoy if that is the right word, the last few weeks of their life.
“They get a quality of life they wouldn’t get on opioids.”
He is determined that medical cannabis should be accessible through the NHS. However, many NHS doctors, GPs and clinicians are not yet trained on the endocannabinoid system and the potential of cannabis.
Further, the current legislation and guidelines allow only specialist clinicians to prescribe cannabis-based medicines.
Mr Smith said: “A lot of people are nervous because cannabis is not part of their formal training, but we can show them how these meds can work and help.”
According to the estimates by Professor Mike Barnes, in the UK, there are approximately two million people who buy medical cannabis illegally, from the black market – one of the main reasons is that there is only a handful of GPs who trust the medicine.
Professor Barnes said: “I think the lack of prescription, particularly in the NHS, is largely down to the reluctance of doctors to consider cannabis as a medicine, which is a shame.
“I think it is partly ignorance, as many don’t understand it and others don’t want to learn about it.”
Mr Barnes added the solution is “education.”