By Roland Sebestyén
Billy Caldwell the boy who changed the law and furthermore went on to pick up the first Cannabis Medicine prescription funded by NHS, and his mother Charlotte completed their 1,000 mile walk to Westminster on 14 June 2021 and are now delighted to announce that the campaign’s efforts have succeeded in securing an historic ministerial meeting with the Department of Health now scheduled for Thursday 8 July.
At the meeting, Billy , Charlotte and her team will present to the Under Secretary of State Jo Churchill and department officials their proposed solution to unlock the deadlock in the provision of medical cannabis on the NHS.
The solution to be discussed has at its heart, the need to gather data on the safety and efficacy of cannabis medicines so that they can be prescribed with confidence by NHS doctors. The initial priority will be to gather real-world evidence to support the prescription of cannabis medicines for four indications already noted by MHRA as being of interest; multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain and pain & nausea associated with cancer.
The proposal includes funding by the NIHR for the establishment of I am Billy not-for-profit clinics (to be managed by leading experts in the area of clinic and trial management) under the governance of the I am Billy Foundation, a charitable company set up to conduct research into cannabis medicines and to relieve the financial burden on vulnerable and chronically ill patients who are obliged to seek private prescriptions until the deadlock is broken. A UK first.
Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018. However, there have only been a handful of prescriptions issued by the NHS for a very limited range of medical indications. Despite calls from NIHR, there is yet to be any government-funded clinical research trials commissioned to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabis medicines.
The proposed historical first of its kind solution presents a collaborative opportunity to help improve lives and improve the financial wellbeing of the NHS through the innovative use of cannabis medicines.
Commenting on the developments, Conservative MP Heather Wheeler said: “Delighted to hear Department of Health has confirmed a meeting between Permanent under Secretary of State, Jo Churchill, DOH officials and Billy & Charlotte Caldwell and their experts on 8th July.
“Billy and Charlotte have worked tirelessly to secure such a meeting to present the solution to unlock the deadlock of Medicinal Cannabis here in the UK. This is a historic step forward and I am incredibly grateful to Jo Churchill and her officials for agreeing.
“This solution can and will save lives while gathering much-needed data for our wonderful NHS “
Adding her heartfelt thanks to Heather Wheeler and to the Department of Health officials who have facilitated the meeting, Charlotte Caldwell said: “I am a mother of a patient with lived experience of medical cannabis.
“I am emotional but also hopeful. I know it has saved Billy’s life, and I am confident that these medicines can save many more. I am happy that the proposed real-world evidence studies can bring relief to patients including children with childhood epilepsy who have also to endure the financial burden of private prescriptions.
“I am extremely grateful to the Under Secretary of State for agreeing to meet and grateful also to the campaign funding partners who are doing so much to support our efforts. I want to wish Matt Hancock all the best for the future and congratulate Sajid Javid on his new appointment. Now is the time for Sajid and Billy to finish the job they started.”