Health chiefs could soon award a pilot contract for a pharmacy to stock medicinal cannabis in the island – for patients with a private prescription.
Health Minister David Ashford told Tynwald there was no difference in the position with regard to the current lack of funding for the prescription of products on NHS, that was under review.
But a mechanism to supply products under private prescriptions could soon be in place and that would be the ’first step’ towards change.
He added: ’The Department of Health and Social Care have scoped the use of a community pharmacy to stock cannabis based medicinal products, in order that patients with a private prescription could access their product on-island.’
A ’prior information notice’ – giving advance warning of a forthcoming procurement process – had been placed for potential providers to respond and the government would consider the award of a pilot contract at a departmental meeting in July, he said.
’It is good news,’ he told Tynwald members. ’It is a huge step forward that people will be able to access prescriptions on-island.
’If it is approved at the departmental meeting in July, from what I have seen of the potential operation that could be in place, my understanding is it could be up and running fairly quickly.’
Mr Ashford was responding to a question from Lawrie Hooper (LibVannin, Ramsey), who sought a progress report on plans to introduce the prescription of medicinal cannabis.
The minister outlined some of the considerations that had to be addressed.
’The majority of the cannabis-based medicinal products do not have a marketing authorisation from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and are considered unlicensed products and therefore the governance around these products must be carefully considered in order to prioritise patients’ safety,’ he said.
A prescriber also needed to be on the General Medical Council specialist register and Mr Ashford said the health department was ’not aware’ of anyone in the island registering their interested as a prescriber at this point.
Earlier this year, Mr Ashford admitted his frustration at the delay in updating the law to allow the prescription of medicinal cannabis. But at that point he said the law change was not a priority while the health department was tackling the pandemic and restructuring to introduce Manx Care.
Last year, 17 out of the 19 GPs who responded to a consultation said they were not willing to prescribe medicinal cannabis.
In this week’s Isle of Man Examiner, a farmer calls for cannabis to be decriminalised for personal use.