using cbd oil for ms ireland

Two medicinal cannabis products approved for use in Ireland

It is hoped it will only be a matter of weeks before patients can use the products.

TWO MEDICINAL CANNABIS products have been approved and registered for use in Ireland under the new Medical Cannabis Access Programme.

The two products are Aurora High CBD Oil Drops and CannEpil.

The two companies approved to supply the products are Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc and MGC Pharmaceuticals, which have both been recommended as being suitable for use under programme.

Health Minister Simon Harris signed legislation in June to allow for the operation of the programme on a pilot basis for five years.

The medicinal cannabis access scheme now makes it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe a cannabis-based treatment for a patient under his or her care, but only for patients with specific medical conditions, where the patient has failed to respond to standard treatments.

These conditions are:

  • spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
  • intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
  • severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy

Following the signature of the legislation, work got underway to find appropriate and approved suppliers of cannabis products for use in Ireland.

Commercial medicinal cannabis suppliers had to meet specified requirements set out in the legislation in order to be able to supply these products into Ireland.

The companies cannabis products will now be listed on Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations 2019.

While the approval of the products has been described as an important step in the process, these products are still subject to international controlled drug import and export licensing requirements.

Under the programme, when a consultant prescribes the medicinal cannabis for use, the companies will apply for a licence to bring the product into Ireland for distribution. Such requirements are outside the Department of Health’s control.

However it is understood it will only take a matter of weeks before patients get to use the products.

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CannEpil is a product that “has been years in the making”, according to Roby Zomer, Executive Director and CEO at MGC Pharmaceuticals. CannEpil was released to the market in 2017, and is a CBD-based medication that is used as a treatment for people with refractory epilepsy.

Aurora CBD drops are extracted from the company’s “non-psychoactive CBD strains”, it states on its website.

In a statement today about its cannabis products being approved for distribution in Ireland, Canadian company, Aurora confirmed that its CBD oil drops will now be added to the regulatory schedule enabling importation, prescribing and supply under the scheme.

Dr Shane Morris, Chief Product Officer at Aurora said the company is pleased to be able to assist patients who are seeking treatment with high quality EU-GMP (good manufacturing practice) certified pharmaceutical-grade medical cannabis in Ireland.

“We are very proud to be one of the first approved suppliers of medical cannabis under the MCAP. We want to acknowledge the efforts made by many people, especially the patients and doctors who have campaigned for access to these medicines.

“We look forward to more of Aurora’s high-quality medicines being approved, so that more patients can benefit from the MCAP in Ireland. We will continue to work closely with all parties and state agencies to facilitate further availability.”

People Before Profit TD for Dublin Mid-West, Gino Kenny, who has been a long-time campaigner for medicinal cannabis use, has said that the news that medicinal cannabis products are available now to be prescribed is “a step in the right direction”.

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“This represents a step in the right direction for those that have been campaigning for the past four years on getting legal and medical access to cannabis-based products in Ireland…

“Though welcome the programme needs to include other conditions where these products could be beneficial for a stated condition- such as pain relief for chronic pain,” he said.

Kenny said it has been a “very protracted number of years for campaigners, but this could be the beginning of something much bigger in the future”.

5 myths about cannabis and MS

Products made from cannabis have been shown to help people with MS manage their pain, muscle spasms and stiffness. But with so much information swirling around about what works – and what’s legal – it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s not.

We dived into the details to bust 5 common myths about cannabis and MS:

1. ‘It’s now legal to buy cannabis on the street if you’re using it to treat medical symptoms’

Wrong. It’s important to remember that it remains illegal to buy cannabis on the street or grow it at home, even if you wish to use it to treat medical symptoms. Rather, the change in the law allowed doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medicines when they believe that their patients could benefit. So you can’t use as a legal defense that you took street cannabis to help with your MS symptoms.

2. Now Sativex is available on the NHS, I can get it to treat my pain

This isn’t the case. Sativex is only licensed for moderate to severe MS-related spasticity. The drug was approved by the National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence (NICE) in November 2019 and is now approved for use on the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for people with MS with ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ spasticity if other treatments haven’t worked. It’s usually used in addition to other treatments, not instead of. It hasn’t yet been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.

Sativex has been shown to improve spasticity-related symptoms, like sleep quality or pain. It also improves people’s ability to carry out daily living tasks.

You can talk to your doctor about getting Sativex for spasticity, but this will depend on where you live. Even if you live in a nation of the UK where Sativex is available, you may not meet the eligibility criteria, or the NHS in your specific region might not pay for it. Join our campaigns community to help us change this

3. Smoking cannabis is as safe as taking Sativex

Wrong. Evidence shows that smoking cannabis can be harmful to people with MS, especially when it’s mixed with tobacco. Smoking tobacco can give you more relapses, more lesions (areas of damage in your brain or spinal cord) and make you more disabled sooner. It can speed up how fast you go from relapsing MS to secondary progressive MS, and make some MS drugs (disease modifying therapies) work less well.

Smoking cannabis is still illegal, so there’s no guidance about doses or quality either. This means you can’t be sure if what you’re smoking is safe.

4. Cannabis is natural, so it’s better than pharma drugs

That’s not how it works. One of the main active ingredients in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is ‘psychoactive’ and can do lots of things – including alter your mind and make you hallucinate. If you or your family have a history of mental health problems (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder), using cannabis can trigger these or make them worse.

This is not the case with Sativex, which has not been linked to mental health or long-term cognitive issues. The difference between Sativex and cannabis is likely due to the combination of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) in Sativex.

Take a look our factsheet for more information on cannabis and its side effects

5. Cannabidiol (CBD) products will help my MS

CBD is the other active ingredient in cannabis. It’s not psychoactive like THC and has anti-inflammatory, anti-tremor and anti-spasmodic properties.

At the moment, there’s not enough evidence to show that products containing just CBD, like cannabis oils, can help MS symptoms. And currently there are no CBD products licensed to treat MS symptoms.

But the evidence shows that cannabis containing both CBD and THC could work for some people with MS to help with pain and spasms. It’s thought that the ratio of THC to CBD determines the level of psychoactive compared to therapeutic effects of cannabis.

We updated this blog on 18 August 2021 to reflect the latest information on cannabis and MS

The perceptions of CBD oil with people living with Multiple Sclerosis in Ireland

You are invited to participate in a study which will explore the perception of CBD oil.

Are you currently living in Ireland and have a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

If so, we are looking to hear from you! A fourth-year B. Applied Food Science and Nutrition student in St. Angela’s College, Sligo is researching the perceptions of CBD oil from the perspective of people living with MS as part of their final year research project. As a part of their project they have created a survey and need to obtain as many responses as possible from people living with MS in Ireland. You do not need to have any previous knowledge of CBD oil, or have used it in the past to complete this survey, we are just looking to get a clearer image of your perceptions and feelings toward CBD oil.

What is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD Oil is derived from the cannabis plant. The CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and is then diluted with an oil such as flax, hemp or coconut oil. CBD oil is legal in Ireland once it contains 0% THC. THC is short for Tetrahydrocannabinol and is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s physiological effects. With the THC extracted, CBD Oil can be used safely and legally in Ireland.

CBD is gaining momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies suggesting it may ease some symptoms of ailments e.g. chronic pain and anxiety.

Further information

If you have any queries or issues regarding the survey please feel free to contact the following email [email protected]

Your responses will be kept 100% anonymous. Thank you in advance for your help!