The UK’s Brexit transition period ends on 1 January 2021, and with it access to medical cannabis prescriptions filled in the EU.
From January 1, UK prescriptions for finished medical cannabis products such as cannabis oil will no longer be recognised by EU member states.
While this does not impact the export of flower to the UK, some UK patients will be affected; particularly severely epileptic children reliant on medicines that are usually dispensed in the Netherlands. Of particular concern are continued supplies of Bedrolite/Bedrocan oils.
Patient advocacy group End Our Pain called the situation a “devastating blow” and said it was scrambling to try and find a long-term solution; a situation made more difficult given limited information.
While cannabidiol based Epidyolex (marketed as Epidiolex in the USA) and THC/CBD based Sativex were approved for the National Health Service last year, the NHS has issued very few prescriptions – and these are particularly costly medications, costing up to thousands of dollars a month.
Even if these were more affordable, some parents believe it is not just a simple case of switching as what may work for one child may not be as effective in another, and changes in medication could prove dangerous.
Hannah Deacon’s son Alfie, the first patient in the U.K. whose doctor was issued a permanent schedule 1 license to prescribe cannabis and who now has an NHS prescription, said earlier this month:
“This is not a matter of swapping products, my son is so well on Bedrolite I will not put his life at risk by stopping a medicine which helps him so much. I will continue to fight for my son and all the other patients who need bedrolite to be well.”
The UK Government is being urged to work with the Dutch Government to find a solution that will allow for supply of products to continue. But with January 1 just a few days away, the potential for disruption looms large even if something could be hammered out. And for some of these children any sort of delay could prove fatal.
“Boris Johnson and the UK #government must take immediate action to resolve this crisis, which could significantly impact the health of these children and their families,” said End Our Pain last week.