Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has welcomed the legalisation of a cannabis-based drug for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers' Sativex' and said it was long overdue and will give patients other options, particularly for muscle spasms. The drug, an oral spray, has been given clearance by the Department of Health. It is hoped that, as well as reducing symptoms, it will also be beneficial in alleviating bladder problems, sleep disturbance and muscle tremors.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
"Multiple Sclerosis affects more than 1.2 million people worldwide, including 600,000 people in Europe. Spasticity is one of the most common and most disabling symptoms of MS, effecting up to 84% of patients. It is widely recognised that currently available treatments are inadequate. Sativex has been developed as a treatment for the relief of symptoms in patients with moderate to severe spasticity. It will be very helpful for patients who have not been adequately treated with current therapies.
"This drug decision is long overdue and will be welcomed by most fair-minded people as giving a greater choice to MS sufferers. The fact that the drug comes from the cannabis plant and the price seem to be the reasons for the long delay in the Department of Health giving it the all-clear. It is currently available in other jurisdictions and some users say it has boosted their quality of life.
"For me it is a 'no brainer'. If it works for even a few, if it improves or eases the burden in a person’s life, if it eases MS symptoms, if it is safe to use, then why should it not be made available for sufferers.
“Proponents of Sativex also say it can make it easier for MS patients to move, can ease spasticity which if left untreated can lead to pressure sores, falls, and serious fatigue.
"As one MS patient said recently " If it gives me another treatment option and if it works then it’s great or even if it gives me even some relief, then bring it on."