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Proper use of cannabis: Instructions for use required for patients

Proper use of cannabis: Instructions for use required for patients


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Pharmacists should educate patients about cannabis
The federal government is currently preparing a law that plans to cover health insurance costs for medical cannabis. Appropriate pharmaceuticals could already be available at checkout costs in 2017. Pharmacists believe that patients who need cannabis for medical reasons also need "clear instructions for use".

Positive health effects
The fact that marijuana has a positive effect on health has been scientifically proven many times, for example for complaints such as nausea and vomiting. In fact, cannabis has long been used in medicine to treat, for example, chronic pain or against spastic paralysis and cramps in multiple sclerosis (MS). So far, patients have had to pay for so-called medical hemp out of their own pocket. And the cannabis supplements in pharmacies are expensive. The health insurers only pay in individual cases. Last summer, 90 percent of Germans voted in a poll for easier access to cannabis for patients. Politics have also reacted in the meantime.

Facilitate access to cannabis
With the "Law on the amendment of narcotics law and other regulations", which is currently available as a draft, "Patients with serious illnesses are to be enabled after appropriate indication and in the absence of alternative therapies", "These medicinal products for therapeutic purposes in standardized quality by dispensing them in pharmacies to obtain". The new law is intended to replace the regulation in which the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has to grant individual exemptions for the purchase of cannabis for each patient. Not everyone agrees with the innovations. For example, doctors in Germany have spoken out against free marijuana on medical certificates. The German Medical Association (BÄK) raised concerns that so-called medicinal hemp "does not allow an exact dosage". In addition, its use as a joint is associated with the "health risks of tobacco smoking".

Patients need "clear instructions for use"
The experts at the Federal Chamber of Pharmacists (BAK) also know that cannabis is not a miracle cure. A central message of the symposium "Cannabis as a medicinal product - facts and challenges" that the BÄK organized in Berlin is therefore that patients who need cannabis for medical reasons must not be let down when using the medicinal product. "If cannabis is prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacists as a prescription drug, then the patients also need clear instructions for use, including the necessary aids," explained Dr. Andreas Kiefer, President of the Federal Pharmacy Chamber in a press release.

For inhaling or drinking
"Smoking cannabis as a 'joint' is problematic because the dose that arrives in the blood is not reproducible. This makes each patient a guinea pig, every time. This is incompatible with modern and scientifically based drug therapy, ”says Kiefer, who is also the chairman of the Commission of the German Pharmaceutical Code / New Prescription Form (DAC / NRF). "We are working on recipe regulations that enable pharmaceutically correct use and dosage of cannabis flowers and extracts." According to experts, cannabis flowers and extracts for inhalation with a vaporizer are therefore being discussed. Or also applications for drinking.

Only suitable for some patients
Kiefer expressed himself positively about the legislator's intention to prevent self-cultivation by patients. He said that with morphine, doctors wouldn't push opium poppy into patients' hands and let them do their pain therapy alone. The head of the Federal Opium Office at the BfArM, Dr. Peter Cremer-Schaeffer also welcomed the project: “Currently 779 patients have special permits. These are no longer exceptions. ”But:“ Cannabis is not a miracle cure and is only suitable for patients for whom other medications do not show sufficient relief. This is evidenced by systematic reviews that point to the lack of studies and evidence in the use of cannabis for the treatment of pain, cramps, palliative care or accompanying cancer therapy, ”said Prof. Dr. med. Michael Schäfer, President of the German Pain Society. (ad)

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