To mark the end of the year that is our namesake, we're proud to announce that we've reached 2000 patients contributing their data to Project Twenty21. In a recent article for Cannabis Health, our Head of Development, David Horn, reflects on the last two years and our somewhat ambitious goal of reaching 20,000 patients by the end of 2021 - if there's something we're never short of at Drug Science, it's ambition! When we launched the project back in November 2019, we could never have imagined the upheaval that a global pandemic would cause for our healthcare system and priorities as a nation.
Project Twenty21 remains the largest medical cannabis study of its kind in Europe, despite all the hurdles and challenges we've faced, and we're gearing up for an even more ambitious 2022. Next month we will announce some changes to the project that will help us continue to grow our patient numbers and collect that much-needed data which drives us closer to our ultimate goal of improving access to medical cannabis for patients through the NHS.
We were following closely the parliamentary debate last Friday - it was the 'second reading' of a bill put forward by Labour MP Jeff Smith to provide better access and medical evidence for the use of cannabis treatments. One of the ideas put forward was that GPs should be allowed to prescribe medical cannabis - one of Prof David Nutt's recommendations in his letter to the ACMD last February. The stories from the MPs telling of the children with epilepsy who have had their lives transformed by medical cannabis moved us deeply. Frustratingly, the debate ran out of time on Friday and will now be voted on next month - we'll be keeping everything crossed! We've also managed to reschedule our event marking '3 Prescriptions in 3 Years' at the House of Lords for MPs and charities to attend in February, so hope that will help bring this important issue to the attention of policy makers.
Patient quote of the month
"Gradually I’m taking less tramadol and dihydrocodeine. My mood has been better and [the cannabis] helps me relax my muscles. I’m able to sleep a lot better.” - Dave, chronic pain & depression patient
NB: correction to last month’s newsletter – our patient quote from Abheda should have been referenced as a Chronic Pain patient.
Chronic Pain totals more than half of all patients on the study, with Anxiety coming up second – this reflects what we see more widely at present with medical cannabis patients in the UK. As pain encapsulates so many conditions, it is unsurprising that we see the largest number of patients in this category, and we’re keen for a more in-depth analysis of the conditions it covers.
And so, we are excited to announce an update to our eligibility criteria. In the new year, you can join the study if you have any diagnosed condition that can be treated with medical cannabis at one of our participating clinics, providing you meet the clinic’s eligibility criteria.
Not only will this help us gain better insight into specific pain conditions experienced by patients, it will also enable more people to access medical cannabis through Project Twenty21.
50% off initial consultants at our newest clinic
Until the end of December, Zerena clinic - the latest addition to our Clinic Directory - will be offering new and eligible patients 50% off their first medical cannabis consultation (usually £80). This is in line with their aim to increase access and support patients who may be low on funds over the Christmas period.
We're really excited to welcome Zerenia to join Project Twenty21. They are the first international clinic network to join the study, with headquarters based in Chelsea, London. Zerenia Clinics has treated over 14,000 patients across Latin America and are at the forefront of gathering evidence to demonstrate the benefit of medical cannabis as a treatment option.
Speaking about the news, Clinical Operations Director for the new UK clinic, Freeda Solliman, said: "Having studied the UK market specifically, we understand how the current regulatory environment frustrates the process for patients. We work with our patients to overcome barriers and keep them informed and supported throughout their medical cannabis journey. We believe building a large body of evidence with Project Twenty21 will encourage the NHS to see the benefits of medical cannabis for UK patients."
As part of Medical Cannabis Awareness Week last month, the incredible Dr Callie Seaman and the team at Aqualabs put together this fantastic educational video exploring and making sense of at the supply process involved with medical cannabis - from seed to prescription. Despite being very complex, Callie helps make it feel much more digestible in this short film! So do give it a watch if you haven't already.
A huge thank you Aqualabs Joseph Chimkupete, Marketing Executive and Dr Callie Seaman, Director / Formulation Chemist, for creating this valuable resource which is available to watch on PLEA's YouTube channel.
Raising awareness amongst GPs
Next month, we're holding a one-off mini virtual conference to help raise awareness of medical cannabis amongst GPs, so that they understand what access routes there are right now for patients as well as how they can get involved with prescribing.
The Primary Care Cannabis Network’s 2021 Survey spoke to over 1000 GPs about their attitudes towards cannabis-based medicines and revealed that more than two thirds of GPs in the UK are asked about medical cannabis by their patients at least every six months. This demonstrates how important it is that GPs are given accurate and helpful advice about what they can do when patients ask about how to access cannabis medicines.
Due to the current COVID climate, we have decided to run the event solely online. We will have leading experts on the subject sharing their knowledge and personal journeys with medical cannabis prescribing, so please do tell your doctor and local GP practice about the event. You will be helping us tell the truth about cannabis as a medicine!
Events & Webinars
Medical Cannabis Prescribing for GPs: CPD-accredited virtual conference - 13th January
A one-off CPD-accredited evening conference, targeted at UK-based GPs interested in learning more about medical cannabis prescribing, including talks from Dr Dani Gordon and Dr Leon Barron. Buy tickets here.
Medical Cannabis Explained (training for medical professionals) - 27th January
Our next CPD certified training session for medical professionals is a perfect opportunity for doctors to ask questions face-to-face with our Clinical Director, Prof Mike Barnes. Find out more and register.
Drug Policy London Symposium - 16th January (in-person & live-streamed)
Our Honorary Research Assistant, Rayyan Zafar, is on the speaker line-up for this London-based event run by the Psychedelic Society. Rayyan will be speaking at this conference-style event about why we've only seen 3 whole plant medical cannabis prescriptions in the past 3 years and what needs to change to enable better access to this medicine. Buy tickets here.
The Truth About Drugs - 9th February (for students)
Prof David Nutt and Honorary Research Assistant, Hannah Thurgur, will be at the University of Bath exploring what evidence-based drug policy means and the work going on at the moment through Drug Science. The event is open to all but aimed primarily at students. Register for free.
How can you help?
As we analyse the data and receive more and more stories from patients, the importance of Project Twenty21 has never been clearer.
If you’d like to support Project Twenty21, to help us gather evidence for medical cannabis to be covered by the NHS, please consider a donation to Drug Science. Every little bit helps us continue the essential work that we do.