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HSE unveils programme to improve quality-of-life for people with MS

By Oisin Kelly - 26th Oct 2023

The HSE has officially unveiled a Managed Access Programme (MAP) for Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol/Cannabidiol (Sativex). The treatment is an anti-spasticity medication aimed at improving the quality-of-life for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The programme is intended to provide much-needed relief for those living with moderate-to-severe MS-related spasticity, who have not adequately responded to other anti-spasticity medications.

MS Ireland has campaigned for some time for the medication to be made available in Ireland. Ms Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland, stated: “This is wonderful news for the cohort of people living with MS who benefit from this treatment but have been struggling to self-fund or those who have been unable to access it due to the prohibitive costs.”

Consultant Neurologist Dr Hugh Kearney added: “Sativex will be an additional pharmacological treatment available for spasticity in MS. Our hope is that with better disease-modifying drugs for MS, we will see complications like spasticity much less often. This medication option may not suit everyone as it has many possible side effects, so other treatments such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy will still be as important as ever.”

The medication is an oromucosal spray contained in a 10 ml vial, with each 100-microlitre spray delivering 2.7 mg THC and 2.5 mg CBD from Cannabis sativa L. It is designed for adult patients with MS, offering symptom improvement where other treatments have failed. The MAP, which has been effective from 1 October, 2023, ensures reimbursement only for the licensed indication, as described in section 1.1 of the MAP guidelines.

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