Parents slam 'expert panel' that wouldn't let their 3-year-old epileptic son use cannabis oil for treatment
A UK couple has accused the government of paying just "lip service" to many families with seriously ill children, especially since their son was denied the right to use medical cannabis oil for his treatment.
Ilmarie and Alex Braun from Chester are reportedly quite desperate to get help for their three-year-old son Eddie, who suffers from a severe form of childhood epilepsy, reports the Daily Mail.
As per reports, Ilmarie and Alex are among the parents who have applied for a license to administer medical cannabis to their sick wards, right after the government set up an expert panel to deal with such cases in June this year.
The panel was set up following outcry over the case of 13-year-old Billy Caldwell, whose parents claimed that he needed the drug to control his epileptic seizures.
But concerns over the panel’s requirements seem to have grown since a lot of parents are finding it extremely difficult to get help. As per the expert panel, all applications need to be backed by the patient’s doctor and hospital trust, but it has come to light that a lot of medics are fearful of taking on the clinical liability.
Parents who managed to secure such a backing, on the other hand, have got only three children to be able to get approval for a license in as many months. It is also being reported that most kids have already been treated abroad with medical cannabis, something that is still banned in the UK.
Which is why The Brauns, from Chester, were viewed as a test case since their son Eddie has not been treated overseas. The publication reports that so far, Eddie has only received cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which does not include the slightly higher levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC that is in medical cannabis oil. Apart from CBD oil, almost all cannabis-related products are illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
However, after the case of thirteen-year-old Billy Caldwell, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that specialist doctors would be able to prescribe medical cannabis on the NHS by autumn. But until then, such cases would be reviewed by the panel of experts.
Sinn Féin MP @OrfhlaithBegley has welcomed Billy Caldwell back to Ireland & said the Department of Health should and could be more helpful to assist Billy pic.twitter.com/MQiFdagb1k— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) July 5, 2018
Speaking to the publication, Eddie's mother said, "We were given so much hope by the Government that this panel would be able to help Eddie and other children get an alternative treatment. Now it turns out that all they were doing was paying us lip service."
She added, "We’ve dedicated months to a complex, exhausting application process, which was never going to succeed. It has only served to add to our stress as a family living with a child with complex needs."
Braun said that their rejection letter made it clear that their application had not met "pre-determined" criteria and the panel "did not appear to have really considered Eddie’s individual situation." She also claimed that the experts on the panel only focused on the dangers of THC, without considering the benefits small doses could provide.
As per reports, a spokesman for the Home Office said they "sympathized", but could not comment on individual cases.