LONDON-UK – 1st November 2023 marks five years since the UK government legalised cannabis-based products for medicinal use in 2018. British companies are now coming to the fore in creating a UK-based supply chain and R&D programme to support a quality-focused and evidence-led approach to these medicines.

Arthur Wakeley, MD of Celadon Pharmaceuticals, said: “Innovative cannabis-based medicines have a significant role to play in improving the quality of life of UK patients. They can help address substantial unmet medical needs, such as the 8 million sufferers of disabling chronic pain; a poorly treated condition that costs the UK billions of pounds every year. We have seen strong results in our own clinical trial, with reductions in pain levels and opioid consumption, as well as many patients returning into the workforce.”

Dr Sebastian Vaughan, CEO of Phytome, said: “Since cannabis-based medicines were legalised in 2018, companies like ours have invested heavily into this cutting-edge life sciences sector. To unlock the substantial opportunity ahead of us, we need a concerted effort to grow this R&D ecosystem and improve patient access to these medicines on the NHS.

James Duckenfield, CEO of Glass Pharms, said: “Estimates on the current number of patients in the UK accessing cannabis-based medicines on the private market are around 30,000- 32,000. However, this is quite small in comparison to comparable countries where medical cannabis has been legalised. For example, in Germany, where patients are reimbursed through the statutory health insurance system, 372,000 prescriptions were issued in 2021.

He added: “But awareness of cannabis medicines in the UK is increasing and prescription patient numbers are rising. With the right regulatory approach supporting a high-quality UK-based supply chain, this industry could be a great British success story.”


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The British Phytomedicines Alliance was founded this year and is established as the leading body representing the UK cannabis-based medicines industry. Its founding members are Glass Pharms, Celadon Pharmaceuticals and Phytome Life Sciences.

Our members are at the cutting-edge of phytomedicinal drug development, creating hundreds of high- quality jobs across the UK and raising many millions in investment to support the industry’s growth.

Conditions such as chronic pain are expensive to manage at a time of squeezed health budgets – costing an estimated £10 billion a year. Cannabis-based medicines can provide a cost effective alternative to other interventions.

In the next five years, we expect our industry to:

Generate £1 billion in new R&D investment

Create an additional 3,000 highly-skilled jobs

Have the potential to serve more than 500,000 UK patients

There are substantial economic benefits for the UK becoming a world leader in this sector. The global cannabis-based medicine industry is forecast to be worth $53 billion by 2027.

With support from the UK Government, BPA members believe our industry can build a global success story for the British life sciences sector whilst making a life-changing difference for millions of people currently suffering with chronic health conditions.