Clinical trials of cannabis-based medicines are about to start in Guernsey. Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, chronic rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia - all conditions which are difficult to treat - will be taking part.
A special area of the PEH has been refurbished as a research unit, so that a full clinical history can be obtained and patients can be observed under standardised conditions. Patients will take different formulations of cannabis-based medicines by means of a sub-lingual spray device - it is sprayed under the tongue and absorbed, rather than swallowed. They will also take an inactive 'placebo' . Neither the researchers nor the patients will know whether they are using the active substance or the placebo at any given time. The research team is being led by Dr Rob Spalding, assisted by Research Nurses, Mrs Gill Yeaman and Mrs Sue Sweet. Dr David Jeffs, Director of Public Health comments: 'I am delighted that steady progress has been achieved and that we will be in a position to start the trials in the very near future. I know that some dozens of Guernsey residents with distressing symptoms from these various conditions have put their names forward for consideration, and we have already received a number of enquiries asking when the trials will be starting.' 'Obviously, getting a completely new project like this off the ground always takes time, but I think we are now almost there.' The trials are being conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the company licensed by the UK Home Office to undertake a pharmaceutical research and development programme to develop prescription cannabis-based medicines. Dr Geoffrey Guy, Chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd, says: 'We already have trials up and running in Britain, and have several more ready to join. However, Guernsey is our first "off shore centre" in the British Isles and it will be very interesting to integrate the results from this selected group of patients with those from the larger UK study.' 'The first phase of the study is likely to last some twelve months, when progress will be reviewed.'