The JMCC Scientific team has moved forward aggressively to operationalize the division after its launch was announced last summer by Group Chair & CEO Diane Scott.
In addition to appointing global experts such as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Evan Cole Lewis, of the Toronto Neurological Centre and Medical Advisor Dr. Elyad Davidson, Director of the Pain Relief Unit at Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Centre in Israel, JMCC Scientific also signed on Professor Carole Lindsay as Consulting Chief Scientific Officer.
Carole is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica. Carol has also been a member of its Cannabis Research Group since 2015, supervising research studies related to medical uses of cannabis, among other projects, while continuing work on her PhD, which focuses on chemical profiling of Jamaican cannabis varieties. She is overseeing development of JMCC Scientific’s research and product formulation laboratory.
JMCC Scientific Managing Director, Anton Mattadeen and Strategy Director Christopher Dollard are also spearheading JMCC Scientific’s product marketing efforts in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Project TWENTY21. This involves developing relationships with physicians, patients and other stakeholder groups in the U.K, and seeking input on much-needed research and education initiatives on medical cannabis, all in close alignment with the overall goals of “T21” as it’s referred to by stakeholders.
Dr. Evan Lewis is also taking part in this effort. He worked with the U.K’s Cannabis Clinicians Society and patients’ group Medcann Support, to presents a series of three virtual “Roundtable” webinars in February, supported by JMCC. The first, presented to physicians and healthcare professionals on February 3, explored the topic of “Real World Evidence for Medical Cannabis: Too strong to Ignore?”. On February 10, another expert panel of clinicians and patient advocates led a discussion on different perspectives on access to, and the ethics of, medical cannabis. The final event in the series, on February 17, was designed for all medical cannabis patients, families and those interested in learning about cannabis as a medical treatment, addressing both relevant law and the patient experience.
Project TWENTY21 Moves Ahead with Creating Europe’s Largest Evidence Base for Medical Cannabis Benefits
In early 2020 JMCC was asked to participate in Drug Science’s Project TWENTY21, as the exclusive supplier for the Caribbean region. The project aims to enrol 20,000 patients across the United Kingdom by the end of 2021 to create Europe’s largest single body of evidence for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis while providing patients with high-quality, affordable medicine. Those goals quickly convinced JMCC Group Chair and CEO Diane Scott to sign on to support the project, now affectionately known as “T21” to its participants.
Although medical cannabis was legalized in the U.K. in November 2018, most of the estimated 1.4 million patients who use cannabis as a medicine are still unable to get prescriptions. Those who can are often hindered by the high cost of most medical cannabis products available – which can range in excess of £1,000 per month and are not currently covered by the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS).
According to Drug Science, a key reason for this situation is the perceived lack of medical evidence on the part of healthcare decision-makers. In a paper published last September (https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/9/e038687), Professor Nutt and his co-authors pointed out “the importance of patient-centred approaches including patient-reported outcomes, pharmacoepidemiology and n=1 trials, which can contribute to the development of the evidence base for medical cannabis.”
As the authors observe: “While tens of thousands of individual patient reports of the therapeutic value of “cannabis-based products for medicinal use or CBPMs (as they are referred to in the U.K.) do not equate to the so-called ‘gold-standard’ double-blind randomized controlled trial (RCT) level of proof, they are highly suggestive of a pattern of evidence which should be taken seriously rather than summarily dismissed.”
The major criticism of the lack of RCTs is misplaced, the authors argue. “Prescribers often mistakenly state that, without these, they cannot prescribe. However, there are over 50 medicines or indications that have been licensed by the (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration and/or the European Medicines Agency between 1999 and 2014 without RCT data,” the authors point out.
The official dismissal of an ever-growing body of other evidence and difficulty in keeping up with so much new research on medical cannabis has resulted in reluctance by many doctors to prescribe CBPMs.
So, in launching T21 last year, Drug Science, supported by other medical organizations, have effectively said: “If they want even more evidence, we’ll give them more evidence!”
Through Project TWENTY21, medical cannabis products will be provided by a select group of supporting companies (including JMCC) at cost to registered patients through a network of clinics and private prescribers throughout the UK. The conditions currently targeted by T21 are:
· Anxiety Disorder,
· Chronic Pain,
· Multiple Sclerosis (MS),
· Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
· Substance Use Disorder (as a harm reduction strategy)
· Tourette’s Syndrome.
By the end of 2020, T21 had received over 8,000 patient registrations of interest since August, when the project went live. And though the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the pace of registrations and initial consultations with prescribers, the switch to more virtual appointments is enabling Drug Science to expedite the process. Meanwhile patient applications continue to increase.
Drug Science anticipates initial data from the study will be reported in the British Journal of Psychopharmacology’s special Medical Cannabis issue, to be published this spring. The article will also take an in-depth look at the ongoing challenges facing the U.K. medical cannabis system, and T21’s progress.
This groundbreaking initiative will have a significant impact on medical cannabis science, on patient access and on helping to reduce the stigma and misunderstanding that still bedevils the use of cannabis as medicine. JMCC is honoured to support this endeavour.