Initial findings from Project Twenty 21, the UK’s largest medicinal cannabis patient study, indicate the treatment dramatically improves quality of life for people with life-limiting conditions including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy and post traumatic stress disorder.
The study has now licensed medical cannabis prescriptions to more than 900 patients in substantially poorer health than the general population, and who have been unable to manage their diagnosed conditions with commonly prescribed medicines.
Their progress has been assessed using EQ-5D-5L data, the established methodology used to study the wellbeing of patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and other clinical conditions.
Patient experiences and the EQ-5D-5L data show a 50% improvement in self-reported health and the ability to lead a more normal life, as well as significant improvements in the patients’ ability to manage debilitating secondary conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and depression.
The study found the availability of legal prescriptions had enabled patients to avoid criminality, with 63% reporting they had previously turned to illegal use in an attempt to treat their medical conditions. It also helped reduce and stop reliance on other medicines which can come with serious side effects, including dependency.
Professor David Nutt, founder of Drug Science, the organisation which delivers Project Twenty 21, said: “A lack of clinical evidence has made it difficult for doctors to confidently prescribe legal medical cannabis in the UK. These new findings provide a major step forward, and help to clarify the benefit these medicines can have for thousands of seriously ill patients.”
Project Twenty 21 is an observational study providing a framework to enable data collection. It is not directly involved with either patients or prescribing, which is conducted by specialist clinicians and funded by five licensed medical cannabis producers, including Bod Australia.
In order to obtain a prescription, prospective patients contact one of the study’s approved clinics. A doctor confirms the patient’s eligibility, and decides what treatment is best based on their condition and symptoms. Once issued, the medical cannabis is sent to the patient by courier from a specialist pharmacy.