MS patients to get ‘life-changing’ Sativex on NHS Scotland



PATIENTS with multiple sclerosis in Scotland will have routine access to a cannabis-based medicine on the NHS for the first time following a long-awaited recommendation from the regulator.

Campaigners at charity, MS Society Scotland, hailed the decision to make Sativex available on prescription to patients with moderate to severe muscle spasms, saying it can be “potentially life-changing” for patients by making a “significant improvement” to symptoms.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said it has accepted Sativex for use in adult patients “with moderate to severe spasticity due to MS who have not responded adequately to other anti-spasticity medication”.

Repeat prescriptions will also depend on patients experiencing a “clinically significant improvement” in their spasms during an initial trial period.

READ MORE: Cannabis-based drug approved for NHS to treat rare form of epilepsy

The drug, which is administered as a mouth spray, contains two chemicals derived from the cannabis plant – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

It has been shown in clinical trials to relieve the painful muscle twisting and stiffness, known as spasticity, associated with MS.

Sativex was licensed for use in the UK more than 10 years ago – meaning that it was considered safe. However, until 2018, doctors were not allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis products.

Sativex was approved for use on the NHS in England in 2019, and has also been routinely available in Wales and Northern Ireland, but until now patients in Scotland could only gain access via the individual patient treatment request process.

Lillias Rapson, 38, from Thurso, Caithness, has been taking Sativex since 2018 following a prescription by her neurologist, originally on the basis of a four-week trial.

She said: “He needed a lot of convincing as he seemed reluctant to prescribe it when it wasn’t approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.”

Ms Rapson said she used to experience a painful tightening sensation around her chest and stomach area, caused by her MS, which was so severe she would “struggle to breathe”.

She said: “I’d have to stay close to the bathroom as I’d quite often vomit due to the severity of the pain the muscle spasms caused in my ribs and chest.

“The ‘hugs’ would last anything from minutes to hours. I’d also struggle to walk due to tremors in my legs. I’d often nearly pass out from the intensity of the muscle spasms.

“Before Sativex, I tried muscle relaxer Baclofen for over a year with little success. I’d exceed the stated dose but still be experiencing spasms.

“Then I took gabapentin [used to treat nerve pain] but I struggled with functioning ‘normally’. I felt quite out of it. It was too much with working and maintaining a life also.

“I take eight sprays of Sativex a day. I’m able to live a life and work out without the severe intensity of MS pain. I still experience muscle spasms but they are now mostly controlled using Sativex.”

READ MORE: Edinburgh scientists’ discovery could pave way to new MS treatment

Sativex side effects can include feeling sick, tired, dizzy, or having diarrhoea, but these tend to fade after a few weeks and some people have no side effects.

Existing drugs to treat spasticity can also cause memory problems and depression, and have proven ineffective in some patients.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said: “Sativex has been proven to relieve muscle spasms and their associated pain, leading to increased mobility, better sleep patterns and an improved quality of life for the person living with MS and their family and loved ones.

“We will continue to work with the SMC, NHS Scotland, individual health boards and neurologists to ensure Sativex quickly becomes available to everyone throughout Scotland whose life could be significantly improved by taking it.”





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Covid Scotland: Infection rates increase for first time in weeks



The number of Scots estimated to have Covid-19 has increased for the first time since the end of June. 

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show one in around 50 people in Scotland tested positive for the virus in the week ending August 28. 

This equates to around 1.98% of the population or 104,000 people.

The slight increase comes after weeks of decline with only an estimated one in 55 people being infected with coronavirus in the preceding week. 

A downward trajectory continued in England and Wales, according to the statistics, where an estimate of one in 70 and one in 95 people respectively had the virus.

READ MORE: Facemasks no longer required by care home visitors and staff

In Northern Ireland, the figure is one in 50 – meaning Scotland had one of the highest rates of the four UK nations.

Most infections have continued to be attributed to Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 since the end of June. 

The estimated figures are based on coronavirus tests carried out specifically for the survey on a representative population.

ONS also warned that there is a higher degree of uncertainty in our estimates for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland as regard to the infection trains. 

 

Health care workers and care home residents have started receiving Covid boosters and flu jabs last week as the autumn vaccination programme gets under way. 

It comes ahead of an expected “winter wave of respiratory virus” with the flu possibly making a resurgence after a drop during the lockdown, the country’s national clinical director warned. 

Speaking on the inoculation programme, Jason Leitch warned a resurgence of respiratory virus this winter is likely. 

 

 





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Beatson’s Paw Walk returns for its 3rd year


Beatson Cancer Charity’s annual Paw Walk is returning for its third year as part of National Dog Week. 

It follows last year’s event which raised an amazing £15,000, which helps support cancer patients and their families across the west of Scotland

Dog owners are invited to take part in Paw Walk activities between 19th-25th September and can also enter their four-legged friends in our competition to become our next Beatson Ambassadog. 

People are invited to join in by walking anywhere with their dog at any time and covering any distance during National Dog Week. 

Everyone signing up will receive a Beatson t-shirt to wear on their walk and our Tier 2 sign ups include a Beatson Tartan dog bandana too. 

Beatson Cancer Charity is also hosting a Paw Walk event at the end of National Dog Week at West Brewery for furry friends to meet together while raising funds for charity. This will take place from 11am-3pm on Saturday 24th – Sunday 25th September. 

We will also be running our annual Ambassadog competition alongside Paw Walk activities. Our current Ambassadog, Milo, has been a fantastic support for our charity. He was entered by his owner, Erin Phairs from Irvine in Ayrshire, after Milo supported her over the years following the cancer treatment she received as a child.  

Erin said: “It’s been such an amazing experience. Being able to spread the word and Milo being able to use his wee face to help promote the Beatson – it’s been amazing. 

HeraldScotland: Milo the current Beatson AmbassadogMilo the current Beatson Ambassadog

“I would say to anyone with a dog to definitely enter the Ambassadog competition, it’s so worth it – just the chance to be able to help the charity in any way and if nothing else, it’s fun just to enter.” 

Dog owners can send us pictures of their four-legged friend who they can’t imagine life without. Our Beatson Ambassadog will help with fundraising activities and become the face of our flagship Off the Beatson Track event for 2023.  

Everyone who signs up to the Paw Walk will receive treats provided by Creature Comforts, who will also be donating goodies for our Hamper Raffle at our Paw Walk event at West Brewery. 

Charlene Low, corporate partnerships fundraiser at Beatson Cancer Charity, said: “Our dogs are just wonderful. 

“Everybody who has a dog knows how important they are. I couldn’t live without my dog – she’s my everything and has got me through so many hard times – as has Milo, our current Ambassadog with his lovely owner Erin. 

“We all know how important dogs are in our lives and how special they are so we just want more dogs to become involved and make a difference to those facing cancer.” 

HeraldScotland:

If you and your dog want to take part, all you need to do is sign up for the Paw Walk on our website. There are two options to choose from when registering:

Tier 1- £10- Adult and dog sign-up, one T-Shirt & dog treats
Tier 2- £15- Adult and dog sign-up, one T-shirt, dog treats & one Tartan Dog Bandana.

To enter our Ambassadog competition, please send pictures in your Beatson t-shirt and their dog in a Tartan Dog Bandana and tag us on social media. You can also email videos and pictures to [email protected] 
 
Entries for the Ambassadog competition must be in by 6pm on Sunday 25th September and the winner will be announced on Tuesday 27th September. 

Beatson Cancer Charity believes that no-one should face cancer on their own. This has always been the Beatson Cancer Charity’s aim and they work hard to continue to support even more people and families in the years to come.

14,172 patients have received therapies at the Wellbeing Centre Beatson Cancer Charity which works in close partnership with clinicians and researchers at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research to help to deliver life-saving research.

The Beatson is an internationally renowned cancer centre and the busiest in the UK in terms of clinical activity and patient numbers as well as being the second largest cancer centre in the UK delivering all of the radiotherapy and much of the chemotherapy to the population of the West of Scotland, with a catchment area of 2.5 million people, which is around 60% of Scotland’s population. Each year The Beatson sees more than 8,000 new patients and delivers more than 25,000 courses of chemotherapy and 6,500 courses of radiotherapy. The Beatson is staffed by some 950 highly skilled and dedicated healthcare professionals across a range of disciplines.

 





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