2 Cannabis-Sativa based drugs have been approved for medical use in the UK

An image of a cannabis Sativa plant

2 Cannabis-Sativa based drugs have been approved for medical use in the UK

Two cannabis-based medicines used to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, have been approved for use by the NHS in England.

Charities have welcomed the move, although some campaigners who have been fighting for access to the drugs have said it does not go far enough.

Both medicines were developed in the UK, where they are also grown.

Doctors will be able to prescribe Epidyolex, for children with two types of severe epilepsy – Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome which can cause multiple seizures a day.

Clinical trials have shown the oral solution, which contains cannabidiol (CBD), could reduce the number of seizures by up to 40% in some children.

Epidyolex was approved for use in Europe in September, but in draft guidance, NICE initially said it was not valued for money.

The drugs will cost between £5,000 and £10,000 per patient each year but the manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals, has agreed to offer discounted price to NHS.

The other treatment, Sativex, is a mouth spray that contains a mix of THC and CBD.

It has been approved for treating muscle stiffness and spasms, known as spasticity, in multiple sclerosis. But doctors will not be allowed to prescribe it to treat pain.

It was the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK after clinical trials and has been available on the NHS in Wales since 2014. It costs around £2,000 a year per patient.

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