The Department of Health is still ambiguous on how it intends to change existing legislation to allow for the prescription of cannabis-based medicinal products in Ireland.
Although the European Medicines Agency has given the cannabis-based drug Sativex a “recommended for approval” status in Ireland under its Mutual Recognition Procedure, cannabis cannot be prescribed by physicians until it is reclassified under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988.
The Irish Cancer Society, Chronic Pain Ireland and MS Ireland have all welcomed the possibility of HTA approved cannabis-based medicines becoming available in Irish medical practice.
Currently, cannabis is considered a Schedule I substance through the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988, and is thus more restricted than Schedule II substances which include medicinal opium, methadone, cocaine and heroin.
In 2010, Health Minister James Reilly, then an Opposition TD, asked former Health Minister Mary Harney if she “would ensure that Sativex is made available to multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers here”. The Department has not yet amended existing legislation to allow for the prescription of approved cannabis-based medicinal products.
Source: Florian Scheibein, Irish Medical News, 16/07/12