Sativex, an oral spray for people with multiple sclerosis, has been approved by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG). According to the authorities, the chemical extracts of Savitex, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol are derived from the cannabis plant.
The manufacturers of this drug say that these extracts can be used as treatment for symptom improvement in adult patients with moderate to severe spasticity due to MS. MS is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS).
AdvertisementWith this, Wales has become the first in the UK to permit a cannabis-based medicine under its National Health Service. The drug will be available on prescription to treat muscle spasms for MS patients who fail to show any response to other medicines.
Wales' Health Minister Mark Drakeford has expressed hope that the spray would prove beneficial for thousands of people suffering from MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Trust, which supports more than 40,000 people affected by MS, has welcomed the decision saying that it will prompt England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to adopt the same approach.
Sally Hughes of MS society said that the medicine should be made available to all eligible people - regardless of where they live. "The MS society has campaigned for years for this treatment to be made available on the National Health Service. Muscle spasms among MS patients can be painful and distressing - and a treatment that can potentially alleviate these symptoms could be life changing," Hughes said.
"Sativex has been licensed as safe and effective for people with MS, and for many people it's their only viable treatment option left. Despite this, NICE - the body that decides what treatments should be available on the NHS in England and Wales - has rejected this medicine for use.
It means people are either left with the daily battle of painful symptoms, or face financial strain as a result of funding the treatment themselves," Hughes added.