Ireland introduces first cannabis-derived epilepsy drug – free on the health service

15th June 2021

Irish patients will soon be able to access a cannabis-derived epilepsy drug for free through the country’s health service, MGC Pharma has announced today.

According to the European based biopharma company, as part of the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP), its cannabis-derived epilepsy Investigational Medicinal Product (IMP), CannEpil, will now be fully covered by the HSE in Ireland.

CannEpil is a phytocannabinoid-derived IMP, designed to treat Drug Resistant Epilepsy with a high CBD, low THC formula, and was made available for distribution and prescription in Ireland in 2019 as part of the MCAP.

Reportedly, medical professionals in Ireland can prescribe CannEpil for patients under their care for a range of medical conditions in addition to Epilepsy.

Other indications that CannEpil has already been prescribed for are Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Insomnia, PTSD and Parkinson’s Disease, all under Cannabis Access Schemes.

Roby Zomer, Co‐founder and Managing Director of MGC Pharma, said in a statement: “This is a key moment for MGC Pharma and for the Irish patients who can now receive cannabis‐based treatments covered by the National Health Insurance.

“Furthermore, this is a critical moment in the roll out of CannEpil both in Ireland and worldwide.

“Our goal is to improve the lives of people who suffer from Refractory Epilepsy and other indications, and by making CannEpil available free to access for patients in Ireland, this will now be the case.

“Combined with record monthly sales in May for our leading phytocannabinoid derived medicines, the company continues to deliver on its goal of building a strong and sustainable global bio‐pharma business.

“With further Clinical Trials of CannEpil underway, we hope to be able to increase the supply and availability of the medicine in the most affordable way to epilepsy sufferers globally in the near future.”

Epilepsy is prevalent worldwide, with over 50 million people suffering from seizures.

Refractory (treatment‐resistant) Epilepsy affects approximately 33% of adults and 20‐25% of children already suffering from epilepsy.

In Ireland, there is a national prevalence of treated epilepsy of 9 per 1,000 people for those over the age of five, meaning an estimated 37,000 epilepsy patient population.

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