Study hopes to show cannabis would be ‘cost-effective’ on NHS


Researchers in the UK are hoping to demonstrate how medical cannabis could be introduced into the NHS at “net-zero” cost.

Researchers in the UK are hoping to fund a major health economic study which could demonstrate the cost benefits of making cannabis more widely available on the NHS.

The research sub-group of the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), has been working on developing a full health economic analysis on medical cannabis and chronic pain, which it expects to prove that introducing cannabis to the NHS will be cost-effective.

An early economic modelling tool will be used to consider the costs, resource use and utility associated with prescribing medical cannabis to treat chronic pain.

It is hoped that the tool will be able to demonstrate the viability of prescribing cannabis on the NHS under different scientific assumptions. 

The study, which will be led by the University of York, will include a comparison of the costs of medical cannabis with standard chronic pain treatments, and a consideration of cost and outcomes over a one-year time period. 

Dr Anne Katrin Schlag, head of research at Drug Science chair of the research sub-group, provided an update on the workings of the research group at the CIC annual general meeting, which was held on Thursday 15 September. 

The study is still looking for part of the funding needed in order to get underway as soon as possible.

Chair of the CIC, Professor Mike Barnes, said this research would be vital in the drive towards wider NHS access to medical cannabis.

“The health economic study will be hugely important,” he commented.

“We need to show that cannabis can be introduced to the NHS at net-zero cost, which I think will be the case, however, we still need to prove it. I don’t want to pre-judge the result, but the health economic paper will hopefully achieve this.”

Other upcoming research

The CIC research group commissions and undertakes independent scientific research with the aim of expanding knowledge and improving patient access to medicinal cannabis. 

A number of other papers are expected to be published in the coming weeks, including several case studies demonstrating the efficacy of medical cannabis in pain, cancer and endometriosis.

A white-paper outlining the value of real-world evidence is also currently under peer-review and is due for publication in early October. 

It will include 10 recommendations which it is hoped will help policymakers understand the value of real-world evidence in relation to medicinal cannabis, to help overcome the current blocks to access. 

Also in development is a two-year project studying hemp and carbon sequestration, led by Jamie Bartley, of Unyte Hemp, which is expected to show the potential environmental impact that the plant could have.

This article was originally featured on Cannabis Health News.

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