05-03-2017 | Vera Twomey needs action from the Government

'05-03-2017 | Vera Twomey needs action from the Government' image

The situation for Vera Twomey needs urgent clarity and action from the Government. In light of the Government's decision to permit medical cannabis under an access programme in certain circumstances, it is clear that an appropriate process and enabling legislation need to happen imminently so that families who want access to medicinal cannabis on a compassionate use basis can obtain it.

Given the devastating impact of rare epilepsies like Dravet Syndrome and the limited success of existing drugs in treating these conditions, it is understandable that many affected families are reaching out for the potential benefits provided by medical cannabis. 

On February 10th, Minister Harris confirmed his intention to establish an access programme.

Families that are now relying on this promise should not be experiencing the protracted ordeal that Vera and her family are currently facing.

In launching the HPRA Report, the Minister outlined three steps he would take to make this a reality:

· Referral of the HPRA report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

· Engaging with stakeholders on the development of a framework.

· Develop legislative changes that may be necessary

Epilepsy Ireland has long held an evidence-based position on medical cannabis and we agree with the path recommended by the HPRA in last month's Report. The Report recognises that access to cannabis treatments may benefit some individual patients with severe forms of epilepsy who have unmet medical needs, while also acknowledging the absence of any robust scientific data on the efficacy and safety of cannabis in treating epilepsy.

We will address this issue further with the Minister for Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD at a meeting later this month.