In today’s cannabis health news, learn more about the flurry of good news from the UK’s medical cannabis industry. This is a sign that the industry is moving quickly to get out of the rut it was in after 2022. Meanwhile, New research suggests that legalizing recreational cannabis could help lower demand for prescription codeine. Lastly, in contrast to the general population, habitual cannabis consumers showed no loss in health, according to a new study by Spanish experts.
Medical Cannabis Industry Starts Well in UK to 2023
Original Source: UK’s Medical Cannabis Industry Enjoys Strong Start To 2023
Last week, the UK’s medicinal cannabis business made many good announcements, indicating that it is quickly recovering from 2022’s lethargy.
First, the government’s latest statistics shows the industry’s size and growth in 2022.
In July 2022, 47,525 cannabis-based medicines were privately prescribed.
Last Thursday, the government reported that between November 2018 and July 2022, this amount rose to 89,239.
This shows that 41,525 private unlicensed prescriptions were issued during that time, however as the data is not broken out by month and due to UK reporting, we cannot precisely estimate how many of these newly reported prescriptions took occurred in 2021.
As BusinessCann has documented, pharmacies are not compelled to transmit this information to the NHS immediately, which delays correct data. This can update data over a year later.
Private unlicensed prescriptions in the UK continue to proliferate.
Licensed private prescriptions also increased. 133 approved prescriptions were issued from 2018 to 2022. 140 prescriptions were written between November 2018 and October 2022—seven more in four months.
GW Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Jazz Pharmaceuticals, produces Nabilone, Sativex, and Epidyolex, the UK’s three legal cannabis medications.
11,976 NHS licensed prescriptions were reported between November 2018 and July 2022, compared to 12,060 between January and April 2022.
The number of NHS unauthorised cannabis-based prescriptions is “withheld in compliance with the GDPR, due to the quantity of items attributable to fewer than five individuals and the high risk of potential patient identifiable information,” as with prior UK government data declarations.
Last week, Khiron Life Sciences revealed that the NHS has reimbursed its cannabis-based pharmaceutical costs for the first time.
This may be the fourth unauthorised NHS prescription since the 2018 legal change and the first since 2020.
BusinessCann has contacted Khiron for clarification and will post details whenever they respond.
The Cannabis Industry Council (CiC) and Drug Science launched a new project to “provide the NHS with the economic case for extending cannabis prescriptions,” which is promising for NHS prescriptions.
The project, financed by Glass Pharms, Ethypharm, and Rua Bioscience, will build an economic modeling tool to evaluate medical cannabis’ costs, resource use, and utility and determine if the NHS should prescribe it.
“For any future NHS authorisation, it is crucial to find out whether medicinal cannabis would be cost-effective when compared to other treatments,” said Drug Science’s Head of Research, Anne Katrin Shlag.
Despite these developments, the administration appears to be maintaining its longstanding position.
Minister of State for Health and Social Care Will Quince responded in writing to inquiries from his own party on “what assessments have been made of the merits of expanding the use of medical cannabis” by saying no assessment had been made.
“Licensed cannabis-based medicines are routinely available on the National Health Service, but clinical guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence demonstrate a clear need for more evidence to support routine prescribing and funding decisions for unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans. Until that evidence foundation is created, prescribers will remain cautious and the NHS cannot decide on routine funding.”
4C Labs co-founder and CiC Medical Cannabis Subcommittee co-chair James Smith told BusinessCann: “The NHS supporting even one patient is a tremendous move in the correct direction. I don’t know the facts, but we think patience and persistence will get NHS patient support.
We believe the NHS should help epilepsy parents. Private medication is prohibitive. The worst part is that these parents are saving the NHS thousands of pounds by not going to the hospital for seizures because the drug works. CIC and 4C Labs are addressing these concerns.
The UK medicinal cannabis supply chain underwent substantial changes this week.
Celadon Pharmaceuticals received an EU GMP license from the MHRA to make high-THC APIs last week.
GW Pharma, Brains Bioceutical, Pharmaron Manufacturing, and Sterling Pharma Solutions have MHRA EU GMP approval to make CBD-based APIs.
Celadon is the only firm after GW Pharma, the largest medical cannabis exporter, to get EU GMP approval for high-THC APIs.
It follows GW Pharma in having API cultivation and manufacturing licenses.
Days later, Scottish cultivator Hilltop Leaf reported £2m in private funding from Traditum and others.
The investment will allow the company to start commercial sales and grow into one of the UK’s major medical cannabis manufacturers, according to the company.
Both companies want to reduce the UK’s medical cannabis imports.
Hilltop CEO Hamish Clegg said, “We intend to match other countries such as Canada, Germany and Israel with our own stable supply from the highlands of Scotland.”
Recreational Marijuana Reduces Codeine Demand
New research suggests legalizing recreational cannabis could cut prescription codeine demand.
Scientists’ reasoning? Pharmacy-dispensed codeine, a highly addictive narcotic, decreased in states that legalized cannabis.
“Reducing opioid usage can save lives,” said main research author Shyam Raman. He is a Cornell University Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy PhD candidate in Ithaca, New York. Our analysis shows that recreational cannabis laws significantly cut codeine distribution to pharmacists, a hidden benefit of legalization.
Prescription opioid abuse kills about 10,000 Americans annually.
21 states allow recreational cannabis. Others propose legalizing it.
The study examined Drug Enforcement Administration Automated Reports and Consolidated Ordering System data (ARCOS). This tracks US controlled substance flow.
After four years, pharmacy-based codeine distribution dropped 37%.
Despite less permissive hospital codeine rules, the research team observed no impact. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine distribution was barely affected by the restrictions.
“This discovery is particularly relevant,” said senior study author Coleman Drake, a health policy and management professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. Prescription opioid abuse is highest for codeine. Our data show recreational cannabis usage may replace codeine misuse.”
In a Pitt news release, researchers said cannabis and opioids help treat chronic pain.
“Increasing legal access to cannabis may shift some users away from opioids and towards cannabis,” said study co-author Johanna Catherine Maclean of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Cannabis use may be less dangerous than non-medical prescription opioid use.
Regular Cannabis Use Does Not Harm Public Health
The Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research article examined the health effects of frequent cannabis use in Spain’s general population for the first time.
3.7% of Spaniards use cannabis. Despite the cannabis social club (CSC) paradigm, cannabis is federally banned in Spain.
Researchers from the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS) and the Department of Biological & Health Psychology at the Autonomous University of Madrid developed a questionnaire based on the Catalan Public Health Survey to study 419 regular cannabis users in Catalonia, Spain.
Sociodemographic data, general and mental health, lifestyle, social support, and alcohol, cigarette, and other substance use were collected from 2019 to 2022 from survey participants.
Regular cannabis users have similar or better health than the general population, according to the Fundación Canna-funded study.
Less medicine and better health
Cannabis users had lower cholesterol, blood pressure, chronic diseases, physical limitations, and depression (7.1% compared to 20.5% of the overall population).
Cannabis users consumed half the alcohol of the general population. 30% of the sample stopped taking prescription drugs while consuming cannabis.
Cannabis users exhibited worse sleep markers than the general population, suggesting they experience greater sleep problems. However, medical cannabis users had superior sleep quality. Therefore, the user profile or how the plant is used determines cannabis’s effects.
The study’s variations in health indicators cannot be linked purely to cannabis, but its authors say it implies that regular users do not incur significant health risks.
To inform cannabis legislation debates, the paper’s authors advise include cannabis-related topics in national health surveys.
“Cannabis usage is stigmatized since the plant is deemed dangerous to public health, but there has never been a real study on its impact based on public health indicators,” said the study’s chief scientist, José Carlos Bouso. This study is the first. Results are meant to inform cannabis policy decisions on regulation.”
Summary of Cannabis Health News
Overall, signs that the UK medical cannabis sector is quickly shaking off the staleness of 2022 were presented in a rush of excellent announcements last week. First, the government’s newest data release gives us the most up-to-date look at the industry’s size and growth through 2022. According to data published in July 2022, there were 47,525 private prescriptions for unapproved cannabis-based treatments between November 2018 and January 2022. This number has increased dramatically to 89,239 between November 2018 and July 2022, according to new data published by the government last week.
On the other hand, findings from recent studies imply that recreational cannabis legalization could help minimize the need for prescription codeine. Pharmacy sales of codeine, an opiate with a strong potential for abuse, dropped significantly in states where recreational cannabis usage was authorized. Shyam Raman, the study’s principal author, said, “A reduction in the usage of opioids can save lives.” He is currently a doctorate student in the Department of Public Policy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. As an unnoticed possible benefit of legalizing recreational cannabis usage, “our analysis reveals that recreational cannabis legislation dramatically cut distribution of codeine to pharmacists.”
Finally, in contrast to the general population, habitual cannabis smokers showed no loss in health, according to a new study by Spanish experts. The report, which was published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, compared frequent cannabis users in Spain to the country’s general population for the first time to evaluate the public health effects of cannabis use.