Tuesday, 18 June 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I appreciate the difficulties in this individual case and I am sorry to hear the story the Deputy shared with us. As he will be aware, however, I cannot comment on individual cases because I do not have access to all of the facts. No Minister has the authority to intervene or direct the HSE in individual cases either.
The latest update on the medicinal cannabis access programme, dated Tuesday, 18 June, is that the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, will shortly introduce secondary legislation which will allow the operation of the medicinal cannabis access programme to start on a pilot basis for five years. The programme will facilitate access to cannabis-based products for medicinal use which are of a standardised quality that will meet the requirements outlined in legislation. The medicinal cannabis access programme will make it possible for medical consultants to prescribe cannabis-based treatments for patients under their care for the following medical conditions. These are conditions for which there is evidence that cannabis-based treatments are effective as medicines. The conditions are: spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, MS; the intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy; or severe, refractory, treatment-resistant epilepsy. It will be the decision of the treating consultant, in consultation with the patient, to prescribe one of these treatments.
Operational guidance for the medicinal cannabis access programme will be available shortly for patients, suppliers, importers, medical practitioners and pharmacists. Availability of cannabis products of an appropriate quality and standard and that are affordable to patients is critical in establishing this programme. Pending the full operation of the programme, doctors may continue to utilise the ministerial licensing route to prescribe medicinal cannabis for their patients. To date, 46 licences have been granted by the Minister in respect of 21 patients.