Medical cannabis is already legal in Portugal, but nobody markets it



The use of medicinal cannabis is legal in Portugal since February 1 to treat ailments such as epilepsy or chronic pain associated with cancer, but it is not yet commercialized because no pharmaceutical company has requested it.

The National Authority of Medicines and Health Products lusa (Infarmed) confirmed to EFE today that, since the entry into force of the standard and to date, no company has requested authorization to introduce medicinal cannabis medicines into the market.

Due to this, although by law Portuguese doctors can prescribe this type of remedies for 50 days, in practice they have no possibility of doing so because there is no medicine based on a cannabis plant in the Portuguese market.

The only one that is approved is Sativex, legal in Portugal since 2012 and used for spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, but the pharmaceutical company that produces it does not sell it in the country.

In order to access it, a special authorization is required to apply for the medication, although its use in Portugal is very low.

According to information sent last year by the Ministry of Health to Parliament, between 2016 and 2017, Sativex was prescribed only 21 times, all of them at the Centro Central Hospitalario Lisboa.

Medical cannabis can be prescribed only when conventional treatments have not produced the desired effects and is authorized for seven therapeutic indications.

In addition to the spasms associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries, it can also treat nausea or vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or combination therapies against HIV and hepatitis C.

Its use is also authorized for those who suffer chronic pain (associated with oncological or nervous system diseases), glaucoma resistant to therapy and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, a neuropsychiatric disorder without cure that causes tics.

It is also considered as a measure to stimulate the appetite in palliative care of patients undergoing oncological or AIDS treatments and for severe epilepsy in childhood.

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