France’s Medical Cannabis Trial to Be Free For Patients
Up to 3,000 patients will be able to receive medical cannabis for free as part of France’s long-awaited medical cannabis pilot program, the French government has announced.
In a decree published on October 9, the government confirmed that participating companies will supply the cannabis products to patients free of charge.
The French dispatch
Initially scheduled to begin this September, the French medical cannabis trial was postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The first prescriptions are now expected to be issued by March, 2021.
The experiment will then run for two years and be accessible to up to 3,000 patients who live with a certain medical condition such as epilepsy, chronic pain, cancer, or muscle spasms as a result of multiple sclerosis.
When initially outlined last year, the trial planned to include patients who had exhausted treatment options and were deemed to be at a “treatment impasse.”
It’s thought that the medical cannabis products available on the trial will be kept to oil capsules, infusions, and drops that can be taken orally. The drugs themselves will be prescribed by volunteer doctors and dispensed by pharmacies participating in the experiment.
The French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), which has organized the trial, will also run the program’s patient registry, which will be regularly updated with the consent of patients, doctors, and pharmacies.
Long in the making
While the Ministry of Health amended the country’s public health code back in 2014 to allow the use of one cannabis-based medicine, Sativex, the government group has been more hesitant on further medical cannabis legislation.
It wasn’t until September 2018 that the ANSM began working on widening access to medical cannabis with the establishment of a scientific committee to evaluate the “relevance and the feasibility of making cannabis available for therapeutic use in France.”
The medical cannabis pilot scheme is the culmination of that work, and the ANSM has been clear that its purpose is not to demonstrate the effectiveness of medical cannabis, but rather to evaluate the practical realities of whether France could support a medical cannabis system.