Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain – View from the British Pain Society

26th November 2019

The British Pain Society (BPS) has released a statement clarifying its position on the use of medical Cannabis for chronic pain management. Their updated statement follows the publication of official NICE recommendations, earlier this month.

BPS has expressed its support for the NICE guidelines, in relation to chronic pain. The guidelines recommend that medicinal Cannabis and Cannabis-based medical products (CBMPs) should not be prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain conditions.

The decision was drawn from a lack of suitable evidence demonstrating the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and safety of Cannabis for these conditions. Despite the consistent view between both bodies, the recommendation has drawn criticism from medical Cannabis advocates and chronic pain sufferers.

Millie Hinton, spokeswoman for the End Our Pain campaign, said:

“This restrictive guidance is condemning many patients to having to pay for life-transforming medicine privately, to go without or to consider accessing illegal and unregulated sources.”

However, both the NICE guidelines and the British Pain Society, support the expansion of clinical trials for medical Cannabis. The BPS has noted its commitment to supporting the ongoing research of medical Cannabis for pain-related conditions.

The BPS stated that it only supports the prescription of medical Cannabis in the participation of clinical trials. It also claims that it will support the use of medicinal Cannabis products in the context of a National Registry.

In its statement, the British Pain Society writes:

“[the BPS has] committed itself to working proactively with other stakeholders in understanding better the role and place of cannabinoids in pain management.”

One such National Registry was recently launched in the UK. Drug Science’s extensive Project TWENTY21 will assess the effect of Cannabis in the treatment of seven conditions, including chronic pain. The study will produce the largest information database of medical Cannabis patients in Europe.

Controversy on the issue of chronic pain and medicinal Cannabis was recently further fanned by research conducted by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis. YouGov, on behalf of the CMC, uncovered that 1.4 million people were using illicit Cannabis to treat chronic conditions.

Moreover, it is believed that chronic pain sufferers are the main contributor to this number. Meanwhile, the British Pain Society estimates that 8 million people currently suffer from chronic pain conditions in the UK.


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