Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) is now open for medical consultants

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, is pleased to announce that the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) is now open for medical consultants to make an application for themselves and their patients to be registered for the programme.  

Registration by consultants and their patients on the Cannabis for Medical Use Register, to be operated by the HSE, is required for the prescribing of cannabis-based products under the MCAP. This is a further important step in the ongoing roll out of the MCAP in Ireland.  

The Minister said: “Today is a significant step forward in the ongoing delivery of the MCAP. This step forward will greatly assist patients who, under the supervision of their consultant, need to avail of medicinal cannabis products to alleviate the effects of their severe medical conditions. I now hope the programme continues to go on and grow and expand further, to best meet the needs of patients and families around Ireland.”  

In January 2021, Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly announced provision for the delivery and funding of the MCAP and it has been included in the HSE’s service plan  for 2021.The HSE have already confirmed that approved cannabis-based products will be available under the Long-Term Illness Scheme , GMS (Medical Card) Scheme and the Drugs Payment Scheme on a named-patient basis

When the MCAP is finally operational, patients with epilepsy will be able to access the Programme in the following circumstances:

  • A suitable cannabis-based product for the treatment of epilepsy (meeting the criteria in the Department of Health’s clinical guidelines) has been included on the list of accepted products. This is not currently the case.
  • A prescription has been issued by a specialist (i.e. a consultant neurologist/ epileptologist) following consideration of the contraindications, warnings and precautions advised in the clinical guidelines.
  • The patient has severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy (including Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome) which significantly impacts on their quality of life and which has failed to respond to five standard treatments.
  • The patient and the prescriber are listed on the MCAP register.
  • Reimbursement under the LTI or GMS scheme has been authorised.
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