Children with epilepsy in the United Kingdom are scheduled to receive medical marijuana for free after private companies responded to a plea from Charlotte Caldwell. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which an individual’s brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or unusual sensations and behaviors. In some cases, individuals may lose awareness.
Caldwell campaigned for help for families that incurred high costs of treatment for privately prescribed marijuana as they underwent a taxing application process for treatment under NHS. In a recent interview, Caldwell stated that this would make a big difference to families undergoing this process, especially in the current cost of living crisis, because it would greatly relieve their financial burden.
Caldwell has a son, Billy, who was diagnosed with severe refractory epilepsy. Billy was the first individual in the UK to be prescribed medical marijuana. Billy, who is now 17, undergoes a cannabis treatment three times daily. His mother reveals that this treatment has led to a decrease in the number of seizures her son suffers, from about 100 every day to almost none.
In late 2018, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid amended the law to permit patients to be prescribed medical marijuana by specialist physicians. The cost of this treatment, however, can be prohibitive. Now, three private companies have agreed to donate medicinal marijuana to children undergoing this process.
Roughly 90 families in the United Kingdom have epileptic children and are trying to access medicinal cannabis treatment from the NHS. This process involves applying for NHS funding for their child’s treatment through the Refractory Epilepsy Specialist Clinical Advisory Service. This process can take more than eight months, which means that before approval, families continue to incur bills in the thousands for these marijuana products.
An NHS spokesperson defended the lengthy advisory service process, stating that clinicians and professional bodies remained concerned about the lack of evidence available on the effectiveness and safety of these unlicensed cannabis products. The spokesperson encouraged more manufacturers to engage with the medicines regulator’s licensing process because this would allow physicians to be more confident in the use of these products, in a similar way to how other licensed drugs are recommended for use by the relevant regulatory body.
Despite these hurdles, the Caldwells and other families understand that the health service must take all the precautions necessary, even after seeing firsthand the positive effect medicinal cannabis has had on their children’s conditions.
As the system becomes more streamlined, the decision by the private firms donating medical cannabis products is a step in the right direction.
What would also help is to reform the cannabis rules so that parents and caregivers of epileptic patients can be allowed to use advanced technologies, such as the grow pods sold by Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) to grow their own prescription-grade medical marijuana rather than having to rely on donations.
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