NMSC ready for treatment with medicine based on cannabinoids

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Le NMSC prêt pour le traitement médicamenteux à base de cannabinoïdes

NMSC ready for treatment with medicine based on cannabinoids

The National MS Centre (NMSC) now offers Sativex® to treat troublesome spasms suffered by MS patients. This makes the NMSC one of the first hospitals to provide this product for treatment under strict supervision. Given the difficulty of obtaining the legalised product Sativex® now in the pharmaceutical industry, only hospital pharmacies with the correct accreditation will be able to offer the product for the time being.

Following the publication of a recent Royal Decree, there is now a legal framework for the use of medicines based on cannabinoids. This Royal Decree states that pharmacies can now use cannabinoids in the form of a spray, with a precise amount of content and concentration, as provided in the product Sativex®.

Sativex® is a yellow/brown liquid in a glass dispenser that is used as an oral spray and which contains cannabis extracts. The number of sprays required differs individually per patient, and a gradual progression is followed in an initial phase in consultation with the doctor responsible. Just like any drug, Sativex® can also have side effects, such dizziness and/or tiredness.

The National MS Centre (NSMC) in Melsbroek will now offer the use of Sativex® to people with Multiple Sclerosis. The medical staff at the NMSC have a clear point of view on this: 'We're convinced that medicinal cannabis in the form of Sativex® – as long as it is used correctly and safely – can be an additional option in the approach to tackling spasticity and spasms in people with Multiple Sclerosis. We see an indication for this if the patient is suffering from troublesome spasms or spasticity, where classic measures are not sufficiently effective. We continue to advocate physiotherapy and muscle-relaxing medication as the first treatment for troublesome spasms or spasticity. If these do not have a sufficient effect or if the side-effects are too great relative to the intended effect, it's possible that the doctor will propose Sativex®.'

Offering Sativex® from now on means the NMSC is one of the first hospitals where cannabinoids are available under strict supervision and monitoring. 'The explicit demand from patients for cannabinoids to suppress spasms has increased notably since the announcement of the product's legalisation in the media. Because of this increased demand and taking the medical staff's opinion into account, we have taken the necessary steps to offer the product legally,' says Dr. Tom Meurrens, medical director.

People who are prescribed Sativex® currently have to cover the full cost themselves. There is no reimbursement available for Sativex® at the moment. The cost is considerable: €650 for 3 vials. With 3 sprays per day, the 3 vials can be used for 3 months. At the maximum of 12 sprays, this is only enough for 23 days. The medical staff from the NMSC emphasise the importance of the safe and correct use of Sativex® and explicitly state, 'Let it be clear: all other forms of cannabis are not permitted in the NMSC. We want to underline that the use of classic cannabis has a negative effect on general health and the progression of Multiple Sclerosis, and it can also have disruptive side-effects (fatigue, psychosis, etc.). We will therefore enforce strict compliance with this ban.'

Address: National MS Centre – Vanheylenstraat 16 – 1820 Melsbroek
Contact person: Dr. Tom Meurrens – medical director – 02 597 86 35

Information about the NMSC
The National MS Centre is an expertise centre that treats people with multiple sclerosis (MS) or similar nervous system disorders (such as Parkinson's, ALS, ...). Our 300 care providers offer – from their various disciplines – specialist clinical care with attention to customised treatment programmes for the patient.