Drug Science and COVID-19

A note from our Founder – Professor David Nutt

Though all the Drug Science team have been on lockdown work has gone on hardly interrupted via the internet and phones. The Twenty21 medical cannabis project has started doing clinical interviews via the internet and the importation arrangements continue to improve; we shall be making a major announcement soon. A major position paper on medical cannabis will be published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology soon. Our MCDA on the comparative benefits of medical cannabis versus other analgesic treatments for neuropathic pain is about to be submitted and another review clarifying fears about addiction on dependence on medical cannabis is nearly finished.

I have recorded seven more podcasts with a range of interesting and entertaining experts and these will start to be broadcast one a week basis from the middle of May and another five or more will be recorded in the next few weeks.

Drug Science has been supporting several initiatives designed to help people with alcohol and other drug problems cope with the closure of services occasioned by COVID19, both in the UK and overseas and we were pleased to see the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommend relaxing regulations on prescription opioid substituent medicines to minimise risks of unplanned withdrawal and a rise in sourcing from the black market.

We have had to defer our annual event which we hold at the House of Lords, with early October looking most likely. On the plus side this gives those of you who are not our community members to join up as this will guarantee you a place at this special event.

As might be expected with something as wide-ranging and impactful on health and wellbeing as COVID19, issues related to drugs have become prominent. These range from worsening outcomes for people in treatment or the need for new initiatives facilitating recovery. Because Drug Science has a significant interest in these, this week we will post two blogs that are relevant. One is by me on the need and nature of future of treatments for COVID19-induced psychiatric disorders and why this should accelerate a revision of “illegal” drug regulations.

The other is an account by a personal friend Ian Sliney, an infectious diseases expert with hands-on experience of both Ebola and COVID19. Ian reflects on the stress of each to himself and his use of nicotine in dealing with this. He also raises the intriguing possibility that nicotine – either smoked or vaped – might reduce COVID19 infections or progression and calls for an open debate to explore this possibility.

I hope you enjoy them both.

Please stay well – and stay in touch

David Nutt
April 27th 2020