Family of epilepsy sufferer says relaxation of cannabis medicine imports won't help them

Family of Fallon Levy says Government's decision gets them no closer to NHS prescription


A family of a woman suffering from severe epilepsy have dismissed the Government's relaxing import restrictions on cannabis-based medicines, saying it brings them no closer to an NHS prescription.

Announcing the move this week, the Government said wholesalers would be able to import and hold larger quantities of the medicines under the new measures, a step for wider prescribing of the drugs on the NHS.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the new measures a “tremendous step towards improving the supply of cannabis-based medicinal products”, while Home Secretary Priti Patel said the move would “allow patients and their families with challenging conditions to access them more easily”.

But the family of Fallon Levy – who last year put their home on sale to pay for the drug to treat her Lennox-Gastaut syndrome – told the JC that it got them no closer to an NHS prescription.

Her father Graham Levy said: “This is a small change which means importing will be easier and we won’t have to smuggle the medication in.

“While this is welcome we are no further forward on getting the prescriptions on the NHS.”

Despite a change in the law in 2018, few people have received prescriptions on the NHS for cannabis-based drugs.

In December, the NHS fasttracked a cannabis-based medicine called Epidyolex, which contained pure cannabidiol (CBD) but not THC, the chemical responsible for the high.

Speaking to the JC in October, Fallon’s mother Elaine said this drug “doesn’t work” in all cases and has been shown to have “side effects”.

She added that parents of epilepsy sufferers among their campaign End Our Pain who tested the drug noticed it improved their condition with side effects, but ultimately had reduced or no effectiveness after a few months.

Instead, the family is calling for the full cannabis extract – including THC – to be made available on the NHS as they believe it does better in combatting the effects of severe epilepsy.

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