07 NOV 2018

Teagan finally gets cannabis treatment

An eight-year-old Kent girl in intensive care has finally received cannabis treatment. Teagan Appleby, from Aylesham, has one of the worst cases of child epilepsy in the UK.

Clinical trials recently conducted at Great Ormond Street Hospital found cannabis significantly reduces seizure incidents. Last month Government announced cannabis could be legally prescribed from November 1. Yet Teagan has been unable to receive it, first due to restrictive guidelines drawn up by the NHS and then due to supply issues.

Following efforts by myself, Teagan's mum Emma, the End Our Pain campaign and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Prescription chaired by Mike Penning, Kent-based company GW Pharmaceuticals delivered the cannabis-based Epidiolex product to Teagan's doctors yesterday. Emma Appleby told my office Teagan has been given two doses so far and the family is waiting to see if it takes effect.

In the end they have done the right thing, but it shouldn't have taken this long. Changes to the law were made specifically for cases like Teagan's. Yet bureaucracy got in the way as she suffered terribly in intensive care. It is every parent's worst nightmare – especially when you know there are treatment options out there. The early evidence suggests cannabis can treat a range of conditions, so the NHS needs to do the sensible thing and step up research and education in this area urgently.

Teagan was born with the rare condition of Isodicentric 15 – a chromosome abnormality that has progressed to Lennox=Gastaut syndrome, a form of severe epilepsy. She is wheelchair-bound, suffers up to 300 seizures a day and is currently in intensive care for the second time in a matter of weeks.

I raised her case with the Home Secretary in July and Sajid Javid set up a medical panel to decide on specific cases ahead of a review. In October Mr Javid announced cannabis could be medically-prescribed by specialist consultants from November. Yet Teagan's treatment was still delayed. On Monday I contacted the chief executive of Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Evelina Childen's Hospital where Teagan is being looked after, urging action.

GW Pharmaceuticals, a firm whose cannabis farm is in Sittingbourne, finally supplied its Epidiolex to Teagan's doctors yesterday afternoon.

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Charlie Elphicke

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