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10th July 2019

Ireland launches 5-year medical cannabis trial

The Irish market has opened its doors to a milestone medical cannabis pilot program

Ireland is embarking on a five-year medical cannabis pilot program. The trial is expected to open the doors to new commercial opportunities for companies to supply the Irish market once their products have met approval requirements set out in legislation.
The cannabis products will be dispensed as prescriptions from pharmacies, with the Health Service Executive covering the cost for patients that qualify. Treatment must be consultant-initiated and all other standard and recommended treatment options have been exhausted.

However, patient enrolment in the program does not automatically mean approval for reimbursement from the Health Service. Only a small number of patients have received special government approval for medical cannabis, but with the decision now at the discretion of health professionals, the process is expected to become easier and more efficient.
“Today is a significant milestone,” Health Minister Simon Harris said in a statement. “The purpose of this program is to facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons, where conventional treatment has failed.”
Ireland’s health department issued the following guidance for potential suppliers and importers of cannabis-based medical products:

  • Appropriate medical marijuana products are defined as “specified controlled drugs” in the legislation.
  • Only products that make the list of “specified controlled drugs” can be prescribed by medical consultants.

Medical consultants will be able to prescribe a cannabis-based treatments when “standard” treatments have failed for:

  • Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
  • Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
  • Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy.