Campaigner Vera Twomey, who fought a lengthy battle to obtain medicinal cannabis for her sick daughter, Ava, has spoken of her joy after hearing the Bedrocan drug will now be funded up front.
Ms Twomey, of Aghabullogue, Co Cork, had to find thousands of euro on a regular basis to pay for Dutch medical cannabis Bedrocan, which was excluded from the Medical Cannabis Access Cannabis programme (CAP).
Ms Twomey said about 60 per cent of existing medicinal cannabis patients are on Bedrocan under an individual licence system.
Until now, due to legal impediments on the Dutch side, Bedrocan was not included under CAP. As a result patients on the drug were not funded at source.
Ms Twomey had to find thousands of euro every three months and then wait for a refund which took over a month.
She said that paying up front was a real worry and thanked all those who supported her during this worrying period.
“There is nothing I can do other than thank all those who supported us throughout this difficult time. We appreciate every message, call and comment more than I can say. Thank you so much.”
Cannabis for medical use
Meanwhile, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he was pleased to announce that the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) is now open for medical consultants to make an application for themselves and their patients to be registered for the programme.
Registration by consultants and their patients on the Cannabis for Medical Use Register, to be operated by the HSE, is required for the prescribing of cannabis-based products under the MCAP.
Mr Donnelly said this step forward will greatly assist patients who, under the supervision of their consultant, need to avail of medicinal cannabis products to alleviate the effects of their severe medical conditions.
“I now hope the programme continues to go on and grow and expand further, to best meet the needs of patients and families around Ireland. ”
The MCAP will require a dispensing fee to be agreed with community pharmacists and this process is ongoing.
In addition to the MCAP, the Minister for Health will continue to operate the Ministerial Licence programme, enabling some 63 patients to avail of medicinal cannabis products, sourced from a pharmacy in The Hague in the Netherlands.
Since April of last year, owing to the Covid-19 travel restrictions and quarantine requirements the department has organised courier collections of patients’ cannabis products in the Netherlands and had these products delivered to them at their homes. This initiative will continue.
It is hoped that over time as more acceptable products are made available on the MCAP, the Ministerial Licence Programme patients may be treated under the programme. However, this is a clinical choice to be made by the patients and their clinicians.