Children in NSW suffering from severe drug-resistant epilepsy have been permitted access to cannabis-based medicine as an alternative.
The NSW Government has secured the drug Epidiolex from the United Kingdom and it will be administered to 40 children, the first in Australia to receive it.
Pru Goward, Minister for Medical Research, said the NSW government believed there was potential in cannabis-based medicine for patients who had exhausted more conventional treatment options.
“We have embarked on an ambitious research program to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids for patients suffering from a range of debilitating conditions,” Ms Goward said.
Beau Woodward, 19 from Tamworth, is suffering from a severe case of epilepsy and is currently undergoing tests for his condition. He is encouraged by the Government’s decision to make medicinal cannabis available to patients who are resistant to conventional medicine.
“Epilepsy is tough to deal with and the fact that the government is allowing this trial is quite exciting and a great investment,” he said.
“If I ever got the chance to trial the drug I would take it in a heartbeat, the drug is the future of helping sufferers.”
NSW Premier Mike Baird said Epidiolex would aid children with severe cases of epilepsy under medical supervision.
“We will be able to deliver access to Epidiolex to allow some of our most vulnerable children to use a cannabis-based medicine under medical supervision,” Mr Baird said.
“Parents have told us they do not want to play pharmacist – they want nothing but the best for their children and we are driven by this same purpose.”
The children who will receive the drug will be monitored for a 12-week period and patients who are eligible for the drug will be contacted in coming weeks. – Madeleine Wilson and Paul Burns