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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

While The NHS Is Failing People, Small CBD Companies Are Stepping Up.

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Alfie Brocklebank

Canabidol CBD Oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Sajid Javid introduced the new regulations on cannabis for medical use last year, it brought hope to hundreds of thousands of people.  Now the NHS is routinely letting patients down and refusing to provide the medicinal cannabis they need.  The law no longer stands in the way but many people are in despair at the cruel and ignorant response of the medical establishment and NHS bureaucrats.

Not least the parents of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, the high profile cases of children with severe epilepsy, whose stories provoked the media outcry that eventually forced a stubborn government to take a proper look at the evidence.

Remarkably, small CBD businesses are stepping up when the NHS is letting people down and offering to provide CBD free-of-charge to those in desperate need.  And these really are small businesses, little more than the internet equivalent of a corner shop. Even the largest of them is tiny compared to the financial turnover of the smallest NHS hospital.  The owners of these small CBD businesses are funding these donations out of their own pockets and not asking for any PR or publicity in return.

Billy Caldwell is now approaching 100 days in exile in Canada

Billy Caldwell is exiled in Canada again because there is not a doctor in the UK who has the courage or the care to prescribe the cannabis oil he needs containing a small amount of THC.  This is mainly due to the inaccurate and, it has to be said, negligent guidelines from the British Paediatric Neurology Association, which has recommended against prescribing even tiny amounts of THC to children.  Its guidance is based on a misguided interpretation of evidence on the harms of adolescents smoking large quantities of high THC cannabis as a recreational drug.

Billy is OK because a consultant neurologist in Canada who understands cannabis as medicine has prescribed an oil with THC which is working perfectly for him.  It’s just that he’s away from his home and his family.  The doctors and NHS bureaucrats at the Belfast NHS Trust don’t care about that.  Their primary concern is sticking by manifestly stupid guidelines to protect their own careers within the establishment structure.

Take note that the media, so keen to publish Billy’s story before, has lost interest.  He’s still being reported as the poster boy for UK medical cannabis reform but the cruel irony is that the reform has failed him.

Another case in point is Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.  There, one consultant neurologist is prepared to follow the evidence, rather than sticking with failed pharmaceutical medicines. He has prescribed medicinal cannabis for at least two children with epilepsy but the hospital management has stepped in and cancelled them, refusing to allow his clinical judgement to prevail over their bureaucratic procedures.

Both children are in severe distress.  Alfie Brocklebank has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) which causes him to have many seizures every day, each one of which is life threatening. The medical director at Alder Hey said he did not meet the criteria to be prescribed medical cannabis so his parents started buying CBD at a cost which soon reached £170 per week. Alfie’s mother Ellen is a nurse, so she knew what she was doing.  Alfie’s seizures stopped.

Ellen Brocklebank

But Alder Hey still refused to prescribe Epidiolex, the GW Pharma CBD medicine, and they wouldn’t help with the cost of the over-the-counter Canabidol CBD which was working so well.  The family simply couldn’t afford to keep spending £170 per week on the oil.

See Alfie Brocklebank’s story here as reported by ITV News.

It was Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, who reached out to CLEAR.  Canabidol CBD is a CannaPro Certified business, endorsed by CLEAR  as an ethical supplier of legal, high quality CBD products. As soon as we spoke to Tom Whettem, CEO of Canabidol, there was no hesitation.  He immediately undertook to provide the oil that Alfie needs at no cost – and there was no question of wanting anything in return.

Alfie’s mother, Ellen, takes up the story:

“Alfie is starting play school next week. Before we started the CBD this would not of been possible as he was just to poorly and having lots of seizures. Alfie going to a main stream play school with his sister is a huge milestone.

We are also slowly coming off Alfie’s conventional anti-epilepsy drugs as well. I’m nearly 100% sure we wouldn’t be able to do this if Alfie wasn’t on the whole plant extract CBD. The neurologist actually told me in his opinion Canabidol CBD is most likely to be more effective than the Epidiolex.”

A number of other CBD companies have now stepped forward and offered to supply oil to people in need who have been turned down for an NHS prescription. As a result, CLEAR, through its trade association Cannabis Professionals, is launching the CannaPro CBD Compassionate Access Programme.

CannaPro CBD Compassionate Access Programme

Applications should set out details of the patient’s condition, any experience with CBD so far and an explanation of the refusal to prescribe on the NHS.  Please email applications to cbdaccess@cannapro-uk.org. All applications will be confidential and considered by a small sub committee of the CLEAR Executive Committee.  Where we are able to recommend that a patient join the programme we will inform the applicant and introduce them to a donor company.  Donor companies will be allocated in strict rotation according to the date they first offered to participate.

 

 

 

 

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Bring Billy Home. The NHS Has Denied Him His Medicine Again. He Is Back In Canada.

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It’s probably the most shocking outcome of the new regulations on cannabis that the boy whose story created the change is in exile again.

Billy Caldwell, loved and adored by the whole nation, is back in Canada with his mum Charlotte because there is not a specialist doctor in the UK who will prescribe the medicine he needs.

He has written a heartbreaking letter to Santa, saying he doesn’t want any toys this year “My Xmas wish is to go home with my medicine”.


I doubt whether there has ever been a time when the British people’s opinion of doctors is sinking so fast.  Previously held in absolute reverence, more and more are realising that doctors are only human and some of their human characteristics are, frankly, disappointing.  I’ll go further, some are disgusting.

Dr Chad Taylor of Jersey General Hospital

Doctors no longer sign the Hippocratic Oath but they are expected to abide by professional standards. You’d expect ethics or morals to be at the top but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Many are uninformed, frightened, ignorant or ideologically opposed to the use of cannabis as medicine.

In some cases, such as Dr Chad Taylor, they prefer their duty to their professional body than their duty to their patients.  Dr Taylor says he has “no intention of bending to this pressure” and insists that his “only obligation as a medical practitioner is I’m duty-bound to follow my professional guidance”.

Dr Tom Smith of Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital

Another, Dr Tom Smith, falsely claimed in writing that he wasn’t “allowed” to prescribe for chronic pain, despite his patient having previously found cannabis effective when prescribed in Holland.  Strong opioids don’t work for his patient but all Dr Smith could say was that the epidemic in opioid addiction could soon be an epidemic in cannabis addiction.

The level of ignorance, wild misinformation and bigotry amongst these so-called professionals is astonishing.

Returning to Billy’s story,  CLEAR has been able to offer advice and guidance to Charlotte Caldwell which we believe provides a method by which Billy may legally return home with his medicine in time for Christmas.  That’s the Christmas gift we all want – but not just for Billy. We want British doctors to open their eyes and their ears and start learning what doctors all over the USA, Canada and the rest of Europe already know, cannabis is a very safe and effective medicine.  Instead of being afraid of it they need to start putting their patients first.

Written by Peter Reynolds

December 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm

NICE Rejects Professor Mike Barnes’ Expertise in Cannabis as Medicine for a Second Time

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Professor Mike Barnes is without doubt the UK clinician with the most expertise in the use of cannabis as medicine. He should have been first choice as a member of the NICE committee charged with developing cannabis prescribing guidelines and, as reported here, its rejection of his application was greeted with astonishment. However, NICE relented and invited Professor Barnes to an interview. Now they have rejected him again.

Mike was responsible for obtaining the first medicinal cannabis licences for Sophia Gibson and Alfie Dingley and he has been involved in countless behind-the-scenes efforts to assist others. He joined the advisory board of CLEAR in July 2016, is an ambassador for the End Our Pain campaign and has since contributed his expertise to several other organisations including UPA. He is also  founder and director of education at the Academy of Medical Cannabis and founder of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society.

What concerned NICE in the first place was that in February 2018, Professor Barnes was appointed Chief Medical Officer of SOL Global Investments (known as Scythian Biosciences until June 2018). NICE was concerned this could be a conflict of interest. In fact, SOL is an international cannabis company with a focus on legal U.S. states. It has no investments or plans for the UK. When Mike told NICE this he was invited for an interview. The second letter of rejection reads:

“It was clear that you have relevant experience and expertise in this area however the interview panel remained concerned about possible conflicts of interest around your links to commercial organisations and your campaign work in the area which means that you have a publicly stated position on the topic.”

Few will regard that as a credible or logical reason for not having Mike on the committee. It’s actually absurd and really makes one wonder who makes these decisions and what planet they are on. If there were even a few alternative candidates to consider then it might make some sense but there don’t appear to be any alternatives to Mike Barnes. If there is anyone else in the UK with his clinical qualifications, knowledge, experience and expertise, no one at CLEAR has heard of them. It’s foolish and irresponsible to reject the only real source of knowledge that will command respect from other clinicians and for such very flimsy and poorly thought through reasons.

How many other clinicians on other NICE committees have commercial relationships with pharmaceutical companies or other medical organisations? How many have also expressed their professional or personal opinions on matters of medical policy and practice? Have they been disqualified for the cardinal sin of holding an opinion? Does NICE want people on this committee who are insufficiently informed or so shy that they do not express opinions?

Could this happen anywhere but in Britain? However patriotic and loyal one is to our country, this sort of crass stupidity and hypocrisy seems to be a special gift of the UK civil service.

NICE has Form for this Sort of Self-Defeating Bureaucracy

Its ‘Do Not Do Recommendation’ on Sativex is directly relevant and is based on on a flawed assessment of cost effectiveness which itself is founded on ignorance of the way cannabis works and a determination not to give proper weight to MS patient reports of the benefit they gain from Sativex. None of this is to overlook the unethical and profiteering price which GW Pharmaceuticals wants to charge for the medicine. Pharmacologically identical products are available from US and Canadian medical cannabis dispensaries for about one-tenth the price of Sativex.

NICE has also failed dismally on the Freestyle Libre glucose monitoring system for diabetics. This revolutionary new system not only makes life much easier for thousands of people, doing away with the need for endless finger pricking, it also dramatically improves blood sugar control promising huge reductions in the long term cost of diabetes to the NHS. It’s been available since 2014 and thankfully will now be prescribed on the NHS from April 2019 but for five years NICE has dithered, waffled and procrastinated on it, exactly as it is now doing with cannabis. Until now, just as with cannabis, it has claimed insufficient evidence but the real problem is NICE has a blinkered view and fails to look widely enough for the evidence it requires.

In a remarkable parallel with the way it is handling cannabis, NICE claimed there was no evidence that the Freestyle Libre led to better blood sugar control in type 1 diabetics, But the reason it claimed this was that there was no study supporting it that met NICE’s criteria and by impeding uptake of the device it was making such a study virtually impossible. NICE totally failed to give any weight to the many case reports of really dramatic benefits – exactly as it is doing with cannabis.

So, while our prime minister and the Home Office drugs minister have a direct financial interest in the UK’s only commercial producer of medicinal cannabis, yet direct and control drugs policy, when it comes to caring for patients, the only British clinician with relevant expertise is disqualified by a connection with an overseas cannabis company and for expressing an opinion than cannabis could help many people.


 

As a footnote, I should declare that I also volunteered to give my time to the NICE committee as a lay member and I too was rejected. It’s not for me to question its judgement unless I have good reason to but given its track record with Mike Barnes, I do have legitmate concerns. I first gave expert evidence to Parliament on the subject in 1983 and again in 2012 and 2016. Since 2011 I have worked intensively with hundreds of people who use cannabis as medicine and I lead the group that represents more such people than all other UK groups combined. I am also the author of the study Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence, which has been translated into three languages and has been cited many times throughout the world. I know of no one in the UK with more relevant experience than me.

What Is The Matter With Doctors About The Use Of Cannabis As Medicine?

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In the UK, most doctors, and the medical profession as a whole, are ignorant and bigoted about cannabis.

Their ignorance is not entirely their own fault.  For 50-odd years, since cannabis tincture was last available from UK pharmacies, they have been subject to the same relentless tide of propaganda from the Home Office, successive governments, the tabloid press and rabble-rousing politicians as the rest of society.  Many still regard cannabis as a dangerous drug consumed by degenerates that almost inevitably leads to mental illness.  The idea that it could be a safe and effective medicine which offers real benefits in a wide range of conditions is regarded as laughable.

However, there is no excuse for such laziness amongst a profession that regards itself as scientific.  And this is the charge – indolence, carelessness and laziness – that needs to be laid at those doctors at NHS England, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurologists Association, that are responsible for the disgraceful ‘guidelines’ published two weeks ago.

Throughout Europe, Israel, Canada and the USA there are thousands of doctors who have made the effort to learn about cannabinoid medicine.  They have had to make extraordinary effort to do because even the most basic science is still rarely taught.  The endocannabinoid system is on the syllabus of very few medical schools, anywhere in the world, despite the fact we now know that it is the largest neurotransmitter network in the body and affects almost every aspect of our health and all medical conditions.  This is a dreadful indictment of the medical establishment but particularly of doctors in the UK, very few of whom have made any effort at all.

So while, to a degree, the ignorance can be forgiven, the bigotry cannot. It is cowardice. These doctors prefer to cover their own backs, protect themselves and prefer an absurd level of caution to doing what is in their patients’ best interests.  The incredibly low risk attached to cannabis in any form, at any age and particularly when under medical supervision, is simply overlooked.

Yes, the medical profession is known to be ‘conservative’ but in the case of cannabis this is an excuse.  Yes, we live in an increasingly litigious society but any truly professional doctor would not be cowed by such fear when the evidence is widely available, if they could be bothered to look. And what is this ‘conservatism’ of?  Modern medicine is barely a century old.  It is new in the history of our species and while the reductionist approach has brought great benefit and made huge advances, it is at the expense of thousands of years of human experience which has been dismissed as valueless.

These doctors may feel that the reforms have been foisted on them with no consultation and little notice but this is not a political game, it affects the lives of millions, from the youngest baby to the oldest, most senior citizens.  These doctors are failing in their professional duty.  For too long they have enjoyed being regarded with ultimate respect, rarely being questioned or challenged by their patients but those days are gone.  Most of the population is now far better informed than ever before, largely because of the internet and although this may cause doctors some problems, they have to learn to live with it.  They have to respect their patients, parents and carers and recognise more than ever before that healthcare is about co-operation, about working together. They have to come down from their ivory towers and start delivering truly patient-centred medicine.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 13, 2018 at 4:57 pm

NHS Guidelines Offer People Who Need Cannabis As Medicine Two Choices. Go Private Or Carry On Being A Criminal.

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Go Private…

…Or Be A Criminal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the new Misuse of Drugs Regulations, which came into force on 1st November, the NHS has issued guidelines on cannabis for medical use, both for clinicians and for the public.

The best that can be said about these is that they are NOT the law.  In fact they are inaccurate, misleading and provide a seriously distorted picture both of the new regulations and of the evidence that is available on the use of cannabis as medicine.  The crucial points are these.  There are NO RESTRICTIONS on what conditions cannabis may be prescribed for.  As well as oils, raw herbal cannabis may also be prescribed – for vaping only, smoking is prohibited. All the decisions are entirely in the hands of the prescribing consultant.

Of course, the problem is your consultant likely knows nothing about cannabis.

Action is being taken on medical education but it is going to take time.  On the authority of the prescribing NHS consultant depends the funding to acquire whatever form of cannabis is required, in itself a difficult process as export licences will have to be obtained in the country of origin, either the Netherlands or Canada.  So for those that can afford it, going to a private clinic could be the quickest and most efficient way of getting the medicine that they need. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly clear, it may be the only way.

For most people, already using cannabis as medicine, this means they will carry on as before, either growing themselves, sourcing supply from friends, acquaintances or dealing with the criminal market, dealers who cannot be trusted, product of unknown quality.

My advice? In the present circumstances, I really believe the state no longer has any moral authority to prosecute anyone who can show they are using cannabis for medicine.  As the state has now recognised ‘conclusive evidence’ of medicinal benefit, the position has changed since the infamous R v Quayle case of 2005. I believe the Court would now support medical necessity as an argument.

So I advise you to grow.  If you are able and have the space, it is the best option. For an investment of a few hundred pounds, purchase a fully configured set up of tent, light, irrigation and ventilation. Grow autoflowering seeds, just one or two plants at a time will meet most individual needs. With modern equipment, it really is much easier and more reliable than you might think.

This is a radical change in my advice and in CLEAR policy but as explained it is now fully justified.

But for those that can afford it, there is now a huge unmet need that surely private operators will step in to fulfil?  It is a huge opportunity. It’s now perfectly legal to establish a private cannabinoid medicine clinic.  This will represent the cutting edge of the new medical cannabis market. It will require highly specialised doctors who are on the GMC’s specialist register. With a few months intensive training in Canada or the USA, possibly the Netherlands, an admin team that gets efficient with the procedures necessary to import.  This is the makings of a very exciting, profitable new, private medicine enterprise, charging very expensive fees.

I understand this will offend some but I believe it must be encouraged.  This is what will push the NHS to catch up.  Historically, advances in medicine have always happened in the private sector first. This is how cannabis medicine has prospered in other countries and it will be the same in the UK.

So, the problem is still far from solved. For some years, many people will continue to suffer unnecessarily but we have made huge strides and the war is won. Now we must make the peace.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm

NICE Rejects UK’s Most Eminent Medicinal Cannabis Clinician From Advisory Committee

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Professor Mike Barnes, the UK’s Pre-Eminent Clinician In Medicinal Cannabis

If the UK was setting up an expert committee on fertility and Professor Robert Winston applied to join, he’d be welcomed with open arms. If we were setting up a committee on the origin of the universe and Professor Brian Cox applied, there’s no question he’d be appointed. But NICE, the National Institute for Healh and Care Excellence, yesterday rejected Professor Mike Barnes’ application to join its committee on cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

This follows the appointment of an expert panel in the summer for which FOI Requests revealed that not one member had any knowledge, experience or expertise in cannabis as medicine. And yesterday, prescribing guidelines were issued by NHS England which are absurd in how restrictive they are.  In effect they say ‘do not prescribe’.

The new regulations introduced by Sajid Javid are a breakthrough in UK drugs policy.  They offer tremendous hope to millions of people for whom conventional medicine has failed but the response of the medical establishment is dreadful.  It’s not doctors’ fault that they have been prevented from learning about cannabis but we now need all teh exprtise that we can possibly get.  Rejecting Professor Mike Barnes’ advice is ridiculous and someone, perhaps Sajid Javid himself, needs to step in and put this right.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 1, 2018 at 1:21 pm

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The Medical Establishment Shows Its True Colours On Cannabis. A Betrayal of Patients.

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NHS England has today published what it describes as prescribing guidance – ‘Cannabis-based products for medicinal use: Guidance to clinicians‘.

The actual guidance is buried within a mountain of bureaucratic doublespeak and requires downloading PDFs from the Royal College of Physicians (download here) and the British Paediatric Neurology Association (download here). In both cases, aside from chemotherapy-induced nausea, the guidance amounts to ‘do not prescribe’. This is a travesty of the intention of these reforms and demonstrates how the medical establishment is more interested in protecting its self-interest than in helping patients gain the benefits of cannabis as medicine. Cowardly and scared are the two words which best sum this up.

It’s no surprise that doctors in the UK are ignorant about the use of cannabis as medicine. They have been subject to the same relentless torrent of reefer madness propaganda from government and media as the rest of society. They have been prevented even from learning about the endocannabinoid system by the authoritarian policy of prohibition and any doctor in the UK who has any experience of cannabis as medicine will have been in breach of professional ethics as well as the law.

But it’s deeply disappointing that the authors of these documents have made no effort to understand the excellent work that is being done by medical professionals in other countries.  The Royal College of Physicians and the BPNA will be a laughing stock across the world in the many more enlightened and educated jurisdictions where patients are gaining great benefit. But of course, this isn’t a laughing matter. In fact, these two so-called professional bodies are making it a tragedy.

Clearly, what is in the best interests of patients is that we must bring in expertise from overseas.  There are eminent doctors abroad who will be glad to step in, particularly in private practice, and pick up this baton which the NHS has fumbled and dropped in the most clumsy fashion.

This is a huge opportunity for those in private medicine who can set aside these cowardly excuses and make the most of the new regulations for patients who are fortunate enough to be able to afford it.

For the average Briton with chronic pain, Crohn’s Disease or an epilpetic child this is a kick in the teeth from the profession that is supposed to care for them.

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 31, 2018 at 6:14 pm