§ Mr. Hutton
Pain management is an important component of most patients' care. The Clinical Standards Advisory Group (CSAG) report on pain services, published in 2000, highlighted variations in access to pain services throughout the country. The report made recommendations to National Health Service acute trusts and commissioners on how pain services should be delivered in order to reduce the variations to access. It recommended that primary care trust commissioners should review local provision of pain services, looking particularly at the provision of more specialised treatments on a networked basis. In this review, account should be taken of the needs of both adults and children, and include patients with acute pain resulting from sudden illness or accident, as well as postoperative pain and chronic pain. Trusts should agree with commissioners the services that are appropriate to meet local needs.
All medicines are assessed before licensing by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with independent expert advice from the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM). A licence will not be granted unless the MHRA and the CSM are satisfied that the medicine meets appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy at the time of licensing.
Details of the different classes of medicines used in the treatment of persistent pain and their side effects are contained within the British National Formulary (section 4.7, page 208, BNF 45, March 2003), a copy of which has been placed in the Library.
§ Mr. Wray
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been made available for research into pain relieving drugs; if he will make a statement on the current status of cannabis for pain relief uses; and what progress has been made in discussions on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
The main agency through which the Government support medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body that receives its grant-in-aid from the Office of Science and Technology. The MRC is currently funding a number of projects investigating the mechanisms of pain that could252W eventually lead to the development of pain relieving drugs. Information on these projects can be found on the MRC website.
The Department of Health funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the National Health Service. Current projects include a £0.6 million study of the comparative effectiveness of topical and oral Ibuprofen for the treatment of chronic knee pain in older people and a £0.6 million study of interventions for pain relief in patients with abdominal malignancy. The Department also provides NHS support funding for research commissioned by the research councils and charities that takes place in the NHS.
A marketing authorisation has not been issued for cannabis for pain relief uses. Like any other medicinal product, cannabis can be granted a marketing authorisation for medical purposes only when supporting data have been submitted to demonstrate that the quality, safety and efficacy of the product are satisfactory for the intended use.