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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 193 - Cannabis for medicinal use [45537/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 193 - Cannabis for medicinal use [45537/17]. (26 Oct 2017)


193. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the work of the expert reference group established to draft guidelines to facilitate the use of cannabis treatments under an access programme; when the guidelines will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45537/17]


Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As the Deputy will be aware, in March 2017, on foot of the conclusions from the Health Products Regulatory Authority’s report ‘Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review’, I established an Expert Reference Group to advise on the development of a Cannabis for Medical Use Access Programme.


The Expert Group is chaired by Dr Mairín Ryan, Director of Health Technology Assessment at the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), and comprises representation from the areas of oncology, palliative care, anaesthesiology, general practice, adult neurology, paediatric neurology, multiple sclerosis, psychiatry, pharmacy, patients, and ethics as well as representatives from HIQA, the HPRA, the National Medicines Information Centre and the Department of Health.


The Expert Group is tasked with the development of clinical guidance for healthcare professionals treating patients through the Access Programme. A critical requirement for the successful establishment of the Access Programme is meaningful engagement with representative bodies, clinicians, patients, and pharmacists so that these groups are integral to the drafting of operational clinical guidance. This has involved continuous ongoing dialogue between the Experts and third parties throughout this initiative. The Group conducted a targeted consultation on the draft guidance, which will be finalised shortly. The Expert Group are also considering other operational aspects for the implementation of the Access Programme.


Officials in my Department are working on secondary legislation to underpin the programme and on the logistics of sourcing suitable cannabis-based product supplies for the Irish market place. This work will take a number of months to complete.


The Deputy will be aware that under the Misuse of Drugs legislation it is open to the Minister for Health to grant a license to an Irish registered medical practitioner for access to medical cannabis for a named patient. The granting of a licence is based on submission of an application to the Minister which is endorsed by a consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who is prepared to monitor the effects of treatment over time. To date two such applications have been successful.


Ultimately it is the decision of the prescribing clinician, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe or not prescribe any particular treatment, including cannabis, for a patient under their care.


Applications received by the Department of Health are assessed without delay. Any consultant who requires further information or clarification in relation to the licence application process may contact the Department of Health directly.

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