The monopoly on life changing drugs including cannabis(2 Posts)
I'll start with cannabis which was legalised last year in Ireland, just over the water, used to treat a variety of symptoms. From knowing people in Ireland I knew long before it was legal, those of all ages with chronic spasms and pain from arthritis, but faced with long waiting lists, would source the drugs themselves.
It was a daft thing to do but I went on holiday and was given something called pollen. I was skeptical as the strongest drugs out there had no effect on my daily pain. From fentanyl to morphine, at best the pain was bearable.
Finding someone who knew what they were doing wasn't hard, making the tradeoff they could share the stash, if they they rolled up a cigarette. I smoked it, no children with us, I was stunned at the results. For the first time in 30 years I was pain free. I had no symptoms, it felt bliss.
It gave me all the more reason to look into why the NHS were so against this herbal and life saving drug. I say life saving, because I had spent a long time simply not fussed about dying as my pain was so bad. Yet a friend for free, gave me a night where ok I was high, but always so so happy. No pain at all, no other symptoms I take regular medication for.
I found the NHS has a cannabis based drug that is licensed for MS, like an inhaler, it delivers 10 shots or puffs, for a cost to the NHS of £1000 per inhaler type device.
Cancer mentioned forthwith - trigger warning.
I'd long read about life saving cancer drugs and other drugs, denied to patients of life limiting and terminal illnesses because of the cost of the treatment.
It seems crazy that a medical company can discover a life changing treatment, but place the cost so high that it's unfeasible for the NHS to prescribe. Yet the very same companies that formulate medicines, get grants to support research. It was one of the big things about leaving the EU, losing science and technology based grants.
I understand the idea of copyright so a rival can't use the same formulation, ripping off those that put in the time and effort. At the same time though, they are wholly inaccessible to the general populous, surely undermining the fact grant money and other contributions go towards life saving, life enhancing drugs.
It was about 10 years ago when an old lady spoke to me about my diagnosis and prognosis, we discovered we had the same illness, she too had the same issue that the opoid medications relieve pain to a point, but like me she wasn't going to keep going back, chasing enhanced doses for full relief, as it doesn't look all that good returning to your GP asking for more and more pain relief.
She was in her mid sixties maybe, possibly slightly older. The other drugs available that supposedly offer relief are in the same band as chemotherapy. They make you really ill, reduce your immune system to nothing, making you a target for every cough and sneeze you encounter to result in a week in bed not only in pain from your original condition, but a heavy cold, ear, nose and throats infections, sinus problems, chest infections, the list is endless.
Being slow on the uptake I realised that for many years she had been using cannabis in many forms. Herbal teas, cakes, smoking, to name a few. This little old lady that you really couldn't imagine doing this. Like she said though, why are they happy to give drugs that your body will become tolerant to, meaning you have to take regular doses, but they won't support as in the US, in some states, prescribing cannabis.
You see people who are strong advocates for its legalisation. If legalised, monitored and handled responsibly, is it any worse than nicotine or alcohol. Yes there's the chance of mental health issues, but not in all patients. It does exist on the NHS as an anti emetic for some chemotherapies, or the spray I mentioned. But heavily priced, so only in extreme circumstances is it viable.
Is it wrong to think if we have solutions to people's misery, whether it be cannabis or some other super drug that could buy a dying person a few extra years. Why is there such a monopoly? It's like Mr. smith discovering the wheel of it wasn't invented and saying, ah but if you want to utilise it, you have to pay a million pound per wheel that you use.
Is my thinking flawed that medicines we know to work against cancers and illnesses shouldn't be priced out of the market, for use legally via the NHS. I guess you could split my argument into two points, the fact that people use morphine when many who try cannabis just the once find it way more effective, secondly what is the point in inventing life saving drugs if only 0.001% of the population can afford to obtain them for use.
I wouldn't have the first clue how to get cannabis where I am now. So I'm stuck with that some experience of feeling pain and symptom free. Having children you don't want to be in any situation where your ability to be a good parent is questioned.
I'm guessing, because I can't be bothered to research that pharmaceutical companies donate towards election campaigns and the like, so whilst in other EU countries they try and use radical treatments to buy the terminally ill time. Whilst in the UK the drugs sir gathering dust in boxes, till someone who can afford it actually purchases the medication to see if it does buy them the time promised.
One medication I take is £100 a box for 10 tablets that I take three times daily. So we're talking a bill for one drug alone of £900 that in my experience sometimes works, sometimes doesn't.
As a scientist, how can you commit your life to developing means to help people, that are wholly unobtainable?
It's crazy to me that people can illegally buy cannabis to aid their suffering, many GP's will tell you off the book that they are in support of it. So why is it such a closed book when it comes to parliament and health commissions.
One of the reasons drugs (pharmaceuticals) cost so much is that to develop them costs a fortune. A phase 3 clinical trial to test a cancer drug would cost at least $50 million. Where does this money come from? Grants don't usually fund late stage clinical trials, they are generally for earlier stage products or more basic science.
At the moment either large pharmas can afford the new trials, or small pharmas/biotechs need to borrow the money. The risk is high, most drugs fail, and the money is gone. Therefore to be viable the companies who borrow the money need to get a big return to make up for the failures, therefore any successful drug will need to be expensive to pay back its debts.
Is it ideal? No, but without the 'big reward' drug development won't go ahead.
However there is a lot of wasted money.
I do agree that cannabis should be legalised too.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.