Medical cannabis access in Ireland took another step forward last month when Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, introduced funding and eased the ways for patients to get access to it.

The Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP), enacted in 2019, is a five-year pilot program to facilitate access to cannabis-based products for medical use that are of a standardized quality and which meet the requirements outlined in the Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations 2019. However, patients had to apply with Irish health officials to take part in the program.

That changed at the end of January 2021, when Mr. Donnelly confirmed that the MCAP has been added to the Health Service Executive Service Plan for 2021. This means medicinal cannabis is now legal and can be accessed with a proper prescription for a certified condition from a qualified doctor. Certified conditions are those which have failed to respond to standard treatments and include spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis; intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy; and severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Once acceptable medical cannabis products are provided by suppliers, the MCAP will make them available to medical consultants to prescribe. The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has deemed four products acceptable and further products are currently being assessed. A variety of medical cannabis products and access via prescription brings hope to the many patients in Ireland for whom medicinal cannabis is the only form of relief or symptom management.

This article appeared in the February 2021 issue of MarkIt to Market®. To view our past issues, as well as other firm newsletters, please click here.