One year of medical cannabis in the UK

Twitter icon

The 1st of November 2019 will mark the one year anniversary of the legalisation of medical cannabis in the United Kingdom. A year after Charlotte Caldwell's tireless campaign to obtain life-saving medication for her son Billy catapulted medical cannabis onto the public agenda, the cost of prescriptions has dropped substantially while the number of scripts written has increased, but more needs to be done before it can be more widely offered by the National Health Service (NHS).

The average price of a month's supply of medical cannabis imported through Logist has dropped from £750 to £550, reducing the average monthly prescription cost by 27%, while the average price per gram has also fallen by 25%. The reduction in cost is a combination of increased volume (meaning the costs associated with importing products is lower per prescription) and the increased availability of different products.

The type of medical specialist consultants writing prescriptions for medical cannabis has also diversified to include pain, oncology and neurology. There has also been a broadening in the delivery method for medical cannabis requested by specialist consultants to include different cannabis oils, pills and flowers, which is largely a result of the greater range of products available. Since February, Logist has imported approximately 1.5kg of flower to the UK.

The vast majority of medical cannabis has made its way to the UK thanks to Logist, a joint-venture formed between specials importer IPS Pharma, and Grow Biotech, the UK's leading medical cannabis market access specialists.

Timeline of Events

  • 1st November 2018 - New regulations introduced, which allowed for the import and prescription of cannabis-based medicines
  • 14 February 2019 - The first bulk import of medical cannabis in the UK and first patients to receive medication from Logist
  • May 2019 - EU based bio-pharmaceutical company MGC Pharma appoints Logist
  • August 2019 - NICE publish interim report on medical cannabis
  • August 2019 - American medical cannabis giant Columbia Care announces that it will fund and provide medicine for clinical trials in the UK
  • September 2019- Leading Canadian company Aurora appoints IPS Pharma and Grow Biotech as importer and distributor for the UK market
  • September 2019 - Medical cannabis consultant informs Logist that a patient is no longer using opioids to manage their condition following treatment with medical cannabis

Looking forward to the near future, Chief Operating Officer of Grow Biotech, Hari Guliani, said, "Over the next twelve months we expect the UK's medical community as a whole to take on the challenge of understanding how cannabis might help their patients. We are expecting leading consultants to publish papers on the impact they have seen on their patients, as well as evidence gathered through MHRA-approved trials. This will significantly improve the data available to regulators, policymakers and NICE."

At present, it is only available on the NHS in extremely limited circumstances and is only obtainable through a prescription written by a specialist consultant in the private sector. NICE (The National Institute of Health Care Excellence) has advised that more clinical trials need to be undertaken in the UK and overall costs of medication need to be reduced before medical cannabis can be prescribed by NHS consultants. However, new medical trials are now underway and prices associated with the import of medical cannabis are falling dramatically, giving hope to the thousands of patients who are still struggling to access life-changing medication.

Another major change which cannot be overlooked is funding for the UK's young medical cannabis industry. Ben Langley, Chief Executive Officer of Grow Biotech explained that, "We have seen a massive increase in funding for UK businesses operating within the medical cannabis space, especially from North America. In addition to the £5m Grow Biotech has raised over the last two years, there have been notably well received fundraises for Emmac Life Sciences PLC (£11m raised in March 2019) and for Oxford Cannabinoid Therapeutics ($10m in April 2019). This trend is likely to accelerate as European medical cannabis gradually establishes itself as an attractive asset class for global capital and European equity exchanges start to open their doors to cannabis companies."

Both Ben Langley and Hari Guliani are available for comment and interview.

About Grow Biotech

Grow Biotech exists to unlock the medical potential of cannabis for those who need it.

Grow Biotech's market access team launches medical cannabis producers' businesses into new markets, creating long-term value for them. The company's R&D team creates new technologies for medical cannabis producers to create better, more cost-effective, medicines.

About IPS Pharma

IPS Pharma is a pharmaceutical importer, distributor and manufacturer with over 18 years' experience in unlicensed and licensed medicines.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: 
Regional Marijuana News: