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Medical cannabis in Europe Between opportunities, challenges, and pioneering work by Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG

Helvezia AG - Medical cannabis in Europe

Hemp, a plant with a millennia-old history in rope and oil production, is experiencing a remarkable renaissance – not as an intoxicant, but as a potential medicine. The focus of intensive research is on the active ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). This article examines the effectiveness of cannabis medicines, the regulatory aspects in Europe, and pays tribute to the pioneering role of Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG from Switzerland.

The active ingredients THC and CBD in focus of research

Cannabis, the Latin term for hemp, has been studied not only for industrial purposes but also for its medical properties. THC, known for its intoxicating and relaxing effects, and CBD, with its anxiety-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties, are the subject of numerous studies. Complex questions and many misunderstandings make understanding difficult.

Regulations regarding the prescription of cannabis in Germany

Since 2017, statutory health insurance funds in Germany have been covering the costs of cannabis medicines under strict conditions. Severe illness, lack of alternative treatment options, and the prospect of noticeable improvement are key criteria. The final assessment is made by the treating physician, and prior approval from the health insurance fund is essential. This direct treatment is strictly scientifically accompanied and controversial.

Applications of cannabis and its effectiveness

Cannabis is being investigated for various diseases and conditions, including chronic pain, muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis, nausea after chemotherapy, and unintended weight loss in AIDS. Studies suggest some relief for chronic pain and muscle spasms, but often with limited effectiveness. Cannabis shows less effectiveness for sudden complaints. Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or Parkinson’s currently respond less well to cannabis.

Side effects of cannabis medicines

Fatigue and concentration disorders are among the common side effects of cannabis. Although life-threatening complications are not yet known, there is an increased risk of mental illness and delusions. About one-third of patients discontinue treatment due to side effects.

Various cannabis preparations and their quality

Doctors can prescribe various types of cannabis preparations, including finished medications such as nabilone and nabiximols, the prescription drug dronabinol, and medicinal hemp in various forms. The quality and effectiveness of these preparations play a crucial role in the success of therapy.

Demands from the Association of Cannabis Supplying Pharmacies (VCA) and the German Society for Pain Medicine

In an energetic appeal, the Association of Cannabis Supplying Pharmacies (VCA) addresses its demands to health policy in order to achieve urgently needed simplification of bureaucratic access to medical cannabis. With only about two-thirds of applications currently being granted, the Association takes the view that a revision of the cumbersome appeal process is urgently required. The VCA relies on strengthening the therapeutic authority of treating physicians in order to focus on individual, patient-centered care. In addition, the Association advocates for the integration of cannabis-based medicine into medical and pharmaceutical education. The goal is to provide sound knowledge to sustainably improve patient care.

Another key figure in this debate is Johannes Horlemann of the German Society for Pain Medicine, who highlights the lack of expertise among many doctors in the field of cannabis therapies before the Health Committee. The tragic consequence: Numerous patients are excluded from this promising option either because their doctors are unwilling to prescribe it or simply because they are not sufficiently informed about its application. Horlemann emphasizes that these are often severely ill patients who have already reached the limits of conventional therapy and are urgently looking for alternative options. He sees immense potential for medical cannabis, especially in the case of chronic pain, where more than half of patients could benefit from an improved quality of life. These demands are part of a medical paradigm shift that could revolutionize not only the effectiveness of therapy options, but also the understanding and integration of cannabis in medical practice.

Pioneering work by Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG

In essence, the direct application of cannabis is only one way to pursue meaningful use. Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG from Switzerland is taking a different approach. The components of cannabis that can have a healing function are to be explored and reproduced in such a way that these building blocks form the basis of medications. The focus here is on effectiveness and safe, consistent quality. With a modern production facility for phytopharmaceuticals, the company relies on sustainability, environmentally friendly processes, and CO₂-neutral products. The innovative production plant will ensure the highest quality of the plant and its ingredients, as well as maximum process uniformity, traceability, and economic efficiency.

Conclusion: Cannabis as a unique medicinal plant with potential

Cannabis is not an ordinary medicinal plant. Its effortless cultivation and broad therapeutic spectrum pose a challenge for governments, health experts, and society. The discussion about decriminalization and faster access to medical cannabis needs to be intensified in order to prioritize the needs of patients. The pioneering work of companies like Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG and the demands of the VCA and the German Society for Pain Medicine contribute to making medical cannabis a serious option in modern medicine. Hopefully, the research on cannabis as medicine will continue to advance and patients worldwide will be able to benefit from these developments.

Author: Dr. Rainer Schreiber / Lecturer, Adult Education & Personnel Consultant

About the author:

Personnel consultant and freelance lecturer Dr. Rainer Schreiber, with a degree in economics with a focus on financing, controlling, personnel and training. The blog schreiber-bildung.de covers topics related to education, further education, and career opportunities.

About Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG

Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG is a family-owned company based in Steinhausen, Switzerland. The company specializes in EU-GMP-compliant production of natural active ingredients and focuses on exclusive supply to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries with high-quality active ingredients and pure substances. For more information about Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG, visit: https://helvezia.ag/ 

Contact:

Helvezia Pharma & Medical Care AG
Turmstraße 18
6312 Steinhausen
Switzerland

+41 41 749 97 05
helvezia.ag
info@helvezia.ag

Contact person: Ridvan Abay

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