Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (597)

Paul Connaughton


597. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health if his Department will allow the drug sativex to be distributed to multiple sclerosis sufferers here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12499/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department has been informed by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) that it is in receipt of a market authorisation request from a manufacturer under the EU Mutual Recognition Procedure for a medicinal product containing Cannabis extract. This product is indicated for the relief of symptoms of spasticity for people with multiple sclerosis. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession of cannabis or cannabis-based medicinal products are unlawful except for the purposes of research.

My Department is currently examining how authorised cannabis-based medicinal products for patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis may be legally prescribed by medical practitioners and used by patients for the treatment of MS in Ireland. In that respect, Department officials have been engaging with experts to identify how best to legally describe authorised cannabis-based medicinal products while maintaining existing controls on cannabis and cannabis substances. While the legislative amendments required can be made by means of statutory instrument, the legal issues are complex. The matter is being progressed as quickly as possible in my Department and it is hoped to bring forward legislative proposals in mid-2013.