Current Affairs
Patients with chronic pain await medical marijuana, but …

The quality, price and effects of medical marijuana have now been placed on the agenda of medical professionals and patients who need this medicine to ease their chronic pain. The cabinet has approved the putting forward of a law to improve the accessibility of this medicine in Malta.

The Chairman of the Medicines Authority, Prof Anthony Serracino Inglott told that the easiest way for medicine to be brought into Malta is wait for it to be manufactured in Malta or for it to be imported from another EU country.

The cabinet’s approval for this law which will improve patient access to medical marijuana is the first step for this medicine to start being prescribed by family doctors.

Ruth Debono, who represents the alliance of patients who suffer from Fibromyalgia and ME, expressed her satisfaction at this decision and said that they have been working on it for three years.

“Now we want to see the availability and price to make sure it is accessible to our patients,” said Ms Debono.

Prof Serracino Inglott said he agrees that it should be more accessible for terminally ill patients. Asked by what the process is for this medicine to arrive in pharmacies, he said that after the law is passed, the process will begin to analyse the medicine.

“The Authority ensures the process is quick according to the product; if it is a European product it falls under what we call the  126A system, and this can be fast tracked. If it is produced under GMP, we have to ensure that it is really GMP, and if it is under the surveillance of the Netherlands, we accept it,” he added.

Prof. Serracino Inglott said there is medicine which comes from marijuana which is sniffed, and if it comes from Holland, it will be easy for the Authority to approve it because it is a very controlled substance.

The medical law specialist Professor Pierre Mallia said that while appreciating that medicine can ease pain, one needs to be careful not to use this medicine before the necessary studies have been carried out. He said that a family doctor needs to be well-informed and even inform his patients about the effects which medicine may have.

“Although many people say that marijuana extracts don’t cause any harm, there is about 10%, which is a lot, which they know can leave certain serious side effects,” said Prof Mallia.

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry said that so far, it is  not known when this law will be placed in front of Parliament for approval.

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