Now that cannabis oil can be legally prescribed in the UK, is it time to look at whether it can help SCI patients with spasticity? Only specialist doctors will be able to prescribe it to patients with chronic pain epilepsy, chemotherapy nausea or MS. So, it will not initially cover help for calming SCI spasticity, but if medical proof can show it will help, surely it will be considered in the future?
A recent study by researchers at the University hospital in Valencia tested the cannabis derivative Sativex, from UK-based company GW Pharmaceuticals, over a 6-month timeframe. They concluded that it was beneficial in mitigating spasticity for the 15 test subjects with a SCI.
Sativex is concentrated whole plant cannabis oil with a few additives and flavouring, that is sprayed into the mouth to administer. It sounds ideal, but the cost is high. For example, in New Zealand a one-year supply costs around £8K. So, although 24 countries have so far approved the use of Sativex, most of the insurers in those countries are reluctant to cover it.
Despite this it seems there is a change coming in respect to the acceptance of cannabis oil as a valid treatment for many problems. Although people may be tempted to try and manufacture their own, due to the cost, the one thing that Sativex offers over this approach is consistency of dose each and every time. This is an important factor that should not be overlooked as it can only help to increase future medical trials and so make it available for more conditions, such as SCI spasticity.
Canada became only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to formally legalise the plant (as opposed to de-criminalise it) on Oct 18. This means all Canadians can now legally evaluate cannabis as an anti-spasticity treatment and add to the body of evidence that it is beneficial for SCI patients.
This can only be a good thing – surely?