France’s Medical Cannabis Trial Kicks Off

Medical cannabis in France

The French Government’s medical cannabis trial saw its first patient prescribed a medicine at the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital last Friday.

Launched by France’s Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Véran, the trial aims to collect the first French data on the efficacy and safety of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, as well as to lay the foundations for its long-term availability.

Around 3,000 patients will be participating in the study.

Minister Véran stated (translated):

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“It’s the role of medicine to fight disease and relieve pain. As a doctor, as a minister, I am proud that France can experiment with the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and thus better support thousands of patients who face serious pathologies.”

The trial is being carried out under the control of ANSM (Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products). In January this year, ANSM chose companies that will supply the program. The companies involved will be providing their medicines free of charge.

Among the firms are Australia’s Little Green Pharma and Althea. Commenting earlier this month on its participation, Little Green Pharma anticipates its involvement will provide it “significant first mover and reputational advantage” not only in France, but also other key EU markets.

Results of France’s program are expected in September 2023 – so for LGP and others, the fruits of their labours will be some way off in terms of their future in France and there are no guarantees of how much benefit their foot in the door will have.

France’s program is providing free cannabis medicines to eligible patients with the following conditions:

  • certain types of severe and drug-resistant epilepsy
  • cancer patients for management of symptoms
  • neuropathic pain resistant to conventional accessible therapies
  • palliative care situations
  • painful spasticity of pathologies of the central nervous system.

The products to be administered will be oil-based formulations or dried flower for vaping, delivered via 215 healthcare facilities across the nation. A mandatory education program for doctors and pharmacists is in place that is consistent throughout the country.

It’s been a long road to this point, with the trial approved by parliament in 2019, but the rollout delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.