Health bosses are refusing to allow people with multiple sclerosis the use of a cannabis-based drug to ease their symptoms.

Seven patients in Sussex have asked the county's primary care trusts for funding for Sativex treatment but all the applications were thrown out.

The PCTs say they are not satisfied the drug was effective and it would not be made available unless it was for exceptional circumstances.

The decision has been criticised by MS sufferers and the MS Society, who believe patients should be allowed to have the drug if they feel it can help them.

Sativex, an oral spray designed to reduce pain, costs £125 a bottle, which works out at about £11 a day for the average user.

It has been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority but has yet to be considered by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence.

This means PCTs make their own decision over whether or not to offer it A spokeswoman for Sussex's four PCTs said: “Difficult choices sometimes have to be made because demand for health care is growing and there is a finite amount of money available to spend.

“The NHS in Sussex aims to spend it wisely, and will therefore only pay for those treatments that are clinically effective and offer good value for money.

“A committee of health professionals evaluated Sativex and determined that the clinical effectiveness in the longer term had not been proven.

“Consequently, it will not be available to patients with MS in Sussex, except in exceptional circumstances through the individual funding request process.”

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