Written question – Medical cannabis [23/01/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many prescriptions for medical cannabis were issued by the NHS in 2019. (3830)

Tabled on: 15 January 2020

Jo Churchill:

NHS England and NHS Improvement is using extant systems to monitor the use of unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in England. In England, these systems monitor the number of items dispensed and associated costs in primary care and the volume of products used and associated cost in secondary care. NHS England and NHS Improvement Controlled Drug Accountable Officers are also collecting local intelligence in both the National Health Service and independent sector.

The NHS Business Services Authority is only able to provide information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines that have been prescribed and submitted to it. The NHS Business Services Authority does not hold information on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines which have been issued but not fulfilled.

The following table shows the number of items for Nabilone, Sativex and Epidyolex (licensed cannabis-based medicines) and unlicensed cannabis-based medicines that were prescribed on an NHS prescription, dispensed in the community and submitted to the NHS Business Services Authority for reimbursement between January and October 2019 (October 2019 is the most recent dispensing data held by the NHS Business Services Authority).

Month Licensed Cannabis-based medicines Unlicensed cannabis-based medicines
Nabilone Sativex Epidyolex *
January 2019 44 167 2
February 2019 36 159 1
March 2019 51 171 2
April 2019 49 156 2
May 2019 59 176 2
June 2019 47 187 2
July 2019 54 158 2
August 2019 46 174 1
September 2019 58 179 0 1
October 2019 46 173 0 1
Total 490 1,700 0 16
Grand Total 2,206


*Epidyolex was unlicensed prior to September 2019; no NHS prescriptions for Epidyolex have been submitted at the time this data was produced. In addition to the above, approximately 185 patients have accessed Epidyolex through the manufacturer’s (GW Pharma) early access programmes, ahead of a licensing decision by the European Medicines Agency.

The answer was submitted on 23 Jan 2020 at 12:23.