THE MOVE to legally prescribe cannabis medication has been welcomed by the mum of a epileptic youngster who relies on the drug to treat ‘catastrophic’ seizures.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced specialist doctors would now be able to prescribe cannabis-derived medicines to patients with ‘an exceptional clinical need’ by this autumn.
It follows a decision by the government to grant six-year-old Alfie Dingley from Kenilworth a permanent licence for the drug – the first of its kind in the UK.
Mr Javid said: “Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory.
“That is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advise on licence applications in exceptional circumstances.
“Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription.”
He said it would help patients with an exceptional clinical need but was no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.
Alfie’s mum Hannah Deacon said while the news was good, it was important that drugs which have been trialled in the UK and those which are known for their consistency – such as ‘Bedrocan’, which Alfie uses – were made available.
Hannah told the Observer: “It’s a great step forward that the Home Office has made this announcement. My concern now is that not only are pharmaceutical drugs available but also whole plant oil like Bedrocan which Alfie is prescribed under license.
“If this isn’t available we would not have moved any further forward. Evidence is available all over the world and it is important that not only pharmaceutical trialled medicine is available but also oil from companies like Bedrocan who Good Marketing Practice certified for consistency of their product.”
Cannabis oil treats a rare form of epilepsy which Alfie suffers from, known as PCDH1. It affects just nine children in the world and causes catastrophic clusters of seizures which are unresponsive to anti-epilepsy drugs.
His family previously travelled to Holland where the cannabis treatment is legal and said his condition improved ‘drastically’ there.
But after funds started to dwindle the Deacon family were forced to return home to Kenilworth.
Since they returned earlier this year Hannah has been campaigning tirelessly to access the drugs for her son.
Following the family’s successful battle Hannah was called upon to sit on a All Party Parliamentary Group helping families access cannabis treatment.