By Roland Sebestyén
The new Health Secretary has been called to “fulfil the promise” he made as Home Secretary in 2018 and do everything in his power to make medical cannabis more freely available on the NHS.
The Sunday Mirror reports that Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine will urge Sajid Javid today at the House of Commons to build upon the law change that he oversaw as Home Secretary in November 2018 to help desperate patients access medical cannabis.
MP Jardine told the Sunday Mirror: “I am not a medical expert, but I have seen the real difference these treatments can make to a person’s life and the financial burden that is currently being placed on families to provide them.”
In 2018, Mr Javid facilitated a law change designed to allow GPs to prescribe medical cannabis to patients with a number of severe medical conditions, such as rare forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Ms Jardine mentioned Murray Gray’s case, as an example.
Murray was only two years old when he had his first Tonic-Clonic seizures. Murray’s seizures became increasingly frequent, increasing from 12 seizures in the whole month of December 2017, to 12 seizures a day in January 2018.
He was later diagnosed with Myoclonic atonic epilepsy (MAE) – more commonly known as Doose Syndrome – a rare form of epilepsy syndrome that accounts for only one to two out of 100 of all childhood-onset epilepsies.
At one point, Murray suffered 600 seizures in a day. After Epidolex (a CBD-based medicine approved for use in the UK) failed him, the family turned to the Netherlands for a medical cannabis oil, containing THC, that eventually saved his life – Since 7 June 2019, Murray has been seizure-free.
Ms Jardine said: “When Murray’s mum Karen first came to me, he was a very unwell little boy who was constantly in and out of the hospital with dozens of seizures, and his family were worried they could lose him.
“Now, since being prescribed cannabis oil, he is seizure free and a happy youngster who plays football with his dad and told me everything I needed to know about dinosaurs when he visited my office. This medication has given him a life he otherwise may not have had.
“However, his parents have had to fight every inch of the way. They, like other parents up and down the country, have raised thousands of pounds to travel to Holland themselves to secure the drug and face the constant fear that they won’t be able to continue, meaning Murray’s health will deteriorate again.”
As the Mirror reports, the current laws state that (medical) cannabis products can only be prescribed by specialist doctors.
Ms Jardine said this has left families and patients struggling to get access to the medication they need.
She added: “It’s unacceptable to think that there are thousands of people missing out because they do not have the support they need from either the UK or Scottish Governments.
“What happens to children with rare forms of epilepsy whose families can’t raise the funds themselves? We cannot allow this to become a situation of the have, and have nots.
“I appeal to Sajid Javid to use his new position as Health Secretary to finish the job he started back in 2018.”