Andrew graduated as a doctor in 2001 at the age of 24 years, following which he trained in various specialties before he started practicing as a family doctor. After 6 months of training at A&E, he worked at the government health centres for three years, while also working privately with his father, who was also a full-time family doctor. In 2007, he left the public sector and pursued his studies in family medicine. He started working as a full-time private family doctor and focused on improving his practice. In 2009, after he obtained his MSc in Family Medicine, he developed a computerized system of records, where all patient encounters are recorded and patients are given printed prescriptions of which a soft copy is kept on the database. His dissertation compared patient satisfaction in the public sector with that of the private sector.
In 2009, he also started appearing on weekly TV programs called Malta Illejla where each week, Andrew would talk about a different health topic. His main interest was prescribing exercise, helping people control stress and live a healthier lifestyle. Throughout his years of practice, Andrew observed how people who ate well and exercised got less sick and had much less health problems.
In 2013, he designed a weight loss program for his patients and used it as a pilot study to monitor the effects of a good diet and regular exercise on blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body fat. The results were very positive as all candidates lost weight, with one person losing over 25kg in 3 months. Diabetics got better blood sugar readings and others managed to reduce their cholesterol levels. Among the patients who managed to stop their medication with these lifestyle changes was one young lady who stopped her antidepressant, an older woman who stopped her statin and a middle-aged gentleman who stopped his blood pressure medication.
This pilot study led Andrew to start using diet and exercise to help patients reduce their medications and live healthier lives. Since stress was one of the major causes of health problems, Andrew observed that by effectively controlling stress, one could lead a better quality and healthier life. There was a close association between stress and pain-related symptoms. Together with an anaesthetist and a physiotherapist, he came up with the idea of creating a one-stop shop for patients suffering from pain-related symptoms, stress and suffering. They started working on The Pain Clinic.
Over the next two years, Andrew continued training online through the University of Cardiff and obtained a Post-Graduate Certificate in Pain Management in November 2016. During these two years, he learned a lot about the endocannabinoid system which he had not known much about. Around June 2016, he was approached by an English Integrative Doctor who wanted to come to Malta to work at The Pain Clinic to treat patients with CBD. The doctor sent over patient histories which showed his success with this product. He had patients with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and various cancers.
Andrew quickly started doing his research and found that CBD was available as a hemp extract and was very safe when tested in high doses. This extract was being sold in Malta at the time, so he recommended it to a young patient who had severe uncontrolled fibromyalgia symptoms and was disabled because of her pain and fatigue. After two drops under her tongue, this patient made a dramatic recovery, got out of bed, cleaned the house and cooked, after being disabled for so long. She had been on high doses of pills for depression, nerve pain and thyroid imbalance. In a few weeks, she stopped all her medication and was reborn. She started doing things that she never did before. She slowly found her right dose and stayed on two drops twice daily and no pills. Six months later, she had lost 30kg in weight and her blood results, including thyroid function, were perfectly normal. She has now opened a business after more than ten years of disability.
In the meantime, another patient turned up at The Pain Clinic. This young gentleman had been involved in a motorbike accident and his leg got run over. He underwent surgery and had permanent nerve damage, chronic neuropathic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was given opiates, antidepressants and sedatives for months and ended up suicidal after almost two years of suffering. Instead of committing suicide, he went to Amsterdam and was prescribed cannabis, which worked miraculously on all his ailments, using various preparations to treat each complaint. He also regained his life back and start a new career.
After seeing the amazing results in these two cases, Andrew wanted to learn more and enrolled in some online courses for professionals in this area. He alerted the Superintendent of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer about this CBD oil and asked how they could help to make it available for patients. Unfortunately, despite a few reminders, there was no reply from anyone. Andrew continued to use the CBD oil to manage patients with chronic pain, borderline diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and stress-related symptoms. Results were incredible and patients managed to get out of their vicious cycle and start exercising again, eating well, etc. It was making patients feel healthier. They also managed to reduce their medication, some also substituting all their medication with the oil.
In the meantime, Andrew did not stop contacting the Medicines Authority and the Superintendent of Public Health but did not get any replies. It was in May 2017, six months later, that he insisted on meeting the Superintendent of Public Health to discuss this issue in person. During the meeting, he was told that CBD oil is illegal and patients cannot be allowed to use it so he stopped recommending the CBD oil and warned his patients that it is illegal.
In June 2017, Andrew completed a course on Patient Focused Certification and is now a partner with ICCI, a company which is working on regulating medical cannabis in Europe in the same way as it is regulated in USA. He is now working towards a Diploma in Pain Management and is also undertaking CME in Medical Cannabis through an American University. He is hoping that legalization will allow him to carry out some research locally on the effect of different cannabinoids in chronic pain.