Cannabis medication allowed in Germany



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Cannabis medication allowed in Germany in the future

According to a statement by the drug commissioner of the federal government Mechthild Dyckmans (FDP), drugs with the active ingredient THC of the cannabis plant will be allowed in the future for medical indicators.

New therapeutic options For many seriously ill patients with chronic pain, the new version of the Narcotics Act (BTM) is a real step forward. For several years, evidence-based studies have shown the medical benefits of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Scientific studies have shown relief from spastic and cramping pain in multiple sclerosis. Other studies report the beneficial increase in appetite in cancer patients. In most cases, cancer and the subsequent therapy lead to a lack of classifying appetite. As a study showed, the active ingredient can help to stimulate the vital appetite of patients. Pain and ataxia patients also reported significant improvements in the clinical picture. The THC active ingredient is also said to be therapeutically helpful in the treatment of Tourette syndrome (TS) and in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the new regulations should not be understood as a "legalization of soft drugs", emphasized the drug commissioner. The reforms only apply to so-called finished medicinal products that are delivered directly from the pharmaceutical producer to the pharmacy. Home cultivation and trade remains punishable even in the case of serious illnesses. Only doctors will be able to prescribe approved medicines to seriously ill patients in the future.

New version allows the production of medicines The reform should now allow pharmaceutical manufacturers to manufacture medicinal products with the active ingredients of the cannabis plant in Germany. Union and FDP coalition circles agreed on this option earlier this week. Just over two years ago, the Union, SPD and FDP had spoken out against loosening the Narcotics Act. At that time, the parties' health experts assumed that cannabis could do more harm to patients than help. "There is already an application for a drug and we hope there will be more," Dyckmans announced at the launch of the Drug and Addiction Report 2011. "The release of medicines with the cannabis active ingredient is an important step, seriously ill people are given another therapy option," added the drug commissioner. A lot of people have been waiting for this important step for a long time.

Mouth spray against spasticity The first approval application at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices () was made by the pharmaceutical producer "Almirall" for the mouth spray "Sativex". The preparation is sprayed under the tongue to alleviate spasticity and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Clinical studies had shown that Sativex reduced spasticity in MS patients without conventional therapy success. The pharmaceutical oral spray has been approved in Canada since 2005. The drug differs from dronabinol because it is obtained from the natural hemp plant. The Federal Institute intends to decide on the application within the next few days. It was left open whether there were any further requests for approval. Dyckmans is hoping for further inquiries because many patients are waiting for urgently needed medicines.

Useful reform for hospices and homes The care of the terminally ill is also being reformed. In order to ensure quick pain relief in the last hours of life, homes and hospices should be allowed to stock emergency narcotics. The specialized outpatient palliative care (SAPV) is being reformed in such a way that the use of painkillers is no longer tied to patients, but that already started packs can also be used for other seriously ill patients in an emergency. In addition, the further use of narcotics prescribed by a doctor but no longer required is to be further expanded. A check must show that the medication is stored and kept in accordance with the regulations. If the storage facilities pass a regular regulatory review, the medication may also be made available to other patients. The German Hospice Foundation welcomed the reform for cannabis medicines in the Narcotics Act. (sb)

Read on:
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Photo credit: tommyS / pixelio.de

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