The first children in the Australian state of Victoria to gain access to medical cannabis will be provided a product imported from Canada.
Twenty-nine children with very serious intractable epilepsy will receive a cannabidiol-based oral solution manufactured by Canadian company Tilray. The government says this is a stopgap measure until local product is available; which is expected to be around the middle of this year.
Early last year, Victoria became first state in Australia to legalise access to medicinal cannabis. It was only last week that first crop grown as part of a medical cannabis cultivation trial was harvested – and medicines will be created from that.
“This is too important to wait. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make sure those families in the greatest need can access this life-changing treatment for their kids as soon as possible,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
However, other children with severe intractable epilepsy won’t be eligible to access medicines until the locally grown and manufactured product is ready.
The fortunate children were nominated by paediatric neurologists and then selected by a clinical panel.
“We know this medicine can dramatically change the quality of life for some of Victoria’s very sick kids,” said Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.
“This means families will no longer have to make the heart-breaking choice between breaking the law or watching their kids suffer.”
It’s a step, but little comfort for those families who in the meantime will miss out. 3-4 months may not seem a long time to we who are healthy, but for those that are unwell – it may seem like an eternity.
On a related note, since Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced last week Australia will have a supply of imported medicinal cannabis products within 8 weeks; awareness is increasing – and so too is demand.
South Australian campaigner and cannabis oil supplier Jenny Hallam, whose premises were recently raided by police, is being inundated by requests.
“They are coming to my house,” Ms. Hallam told Huffington Post.
“It’s breaking my heart having people begging for their lives.”
The raid and consequent loss of supply has apparently put many of Ms. Hallam’s existing beneficiaries at risk.