Home > Joint Committee on Health debate. Covid-19 health related issues: update.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Health debate. Covid-19 health related issues: update. (02 Mar 2021)

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Deputy Gino Kelly: Last Thursday, we informally spoke about the HSE service plan and the funding for the medical cannabis access programme. I ask the Minister to comment on that. What funding is available? When could the programme commence? I hope that it is this year so people can for the first time get medical cannabis under prescription.


Deputy Stephen Donnelly Minister for Health: I acknowledge the Deputy's ongoing work on this matter. As he will be well aware, there are two avenues to access these particular treatments. One is the ministerial licence scheme, which been active to date. Since 2016, when the scheme was brought in, 144 licences have been approved for 55 separate patients.


What the Deputy and I have focused on is the medicinal cannabis access programme, MCAP. It was based on a 2017 Health Products Regulatory Authority, HPRA, scientific review. The programme was put in place but never funded so it could not be used and I am activating that this year. My Department has estimated that several million euro will be required but we do not know the exact figure yet. Covid has complicated things a bit because of exports from Holland. What the HSE and the Department have done, for which they deserve great credit, is to have deliveries made direct to patients' homes. What I think we both want to see is for MCAP to be put in place as quickly as possible, and it is funded for this year, so that deliveries are made to local pharmacies for the patients, which will be a gamechanger. I have no doubt that I, the Deputy and others will debate some of the other products from the Netherlands that, to date, had not been considered for inclusion; Bedrocan is one that we will all be familiar with and I think we need to look at that. What I am told is that the Dutch authorities do not permit their commercial export at this time but that is something we should continue to engage on.

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