The first medication using active constituents of cannabis has been okayed for prescription by SNS health system doctors.
This means that the costs of Sativex – a mouth spray to alleviate symptoms in patients with Multiple Sclerosis – will now be partly borne by the Portuguese government.
Produced here by Montijo-based firm Terra Verde, it is not however ‘cheap’.
Medication authority Infarmed has confirmed that it costs 475 euros, of which the State will now pay 37%.
In other words, patients will still be left spending over €300 for every pack.
Explain reports, Sativex treats the ‘shakes and involuntary spasms’ caused by MS.
Sativex has been ‘available in Portugal’ since 2012 (but only under special licence).
Efforts to authorise cannabis-based medicines here finally saw parliament give its green light last summer (click here), which has in turn led to this latest decision for State participation.
Even so, the wait for sufferers is not over: it will take until at least September before the treatment starts receiving State support – despite all the moves made by medicinal cannabis producers to expand into the national market (click here).
Says Observador today, “beyond Sativex, Infarmed is evaluating a request for authorisation for a product made from the same plant”.
So, slowly these remedies that many chronic patients swear by are creeping into the mainstream.
Meantime, investigators at the Champalimaud Centre in Lisbon claim to have found a new formula for eliminating cancer “more efficiently”.
It involves “blocking the competition mechanism of cancer cells” so that they don’t manage to kill neighbouring healthy cells.
According to a study in Nature magazine, Champalimaud’s Eduardo Moreno and his team, aren’t proclaiming an out-and-out cure, though in some cases tumours could be totally eliminated.
The cell manipulation still requires chemotherapy, explained the report.