South Leicestershire MP, Alberto Costa, has raised the ‘prohibitive’ cost of private prescriptions of medicinal cannabis for children with intractable epilepsy in the House of Commons this week.
Alberto, who is Co-Chair of the cross-party Parliamentary Group on Medical Cannabis under Prescription, has championed this issue in Parliament on behalf of his young constituents Maya, who is nine years old, and Evelina who is four years old, both of whom suffer from rare forms of epilepsy.
Although the law was changed in November 2018 to allow access to medical cannabis in specialist cases, only three prescriptions have been issued since. As a result, families are having to pay for private prescriptions which cost up to £2,000 a month.
Speaking in the Adjournment Debate secured by Christine Jardine MP, Alberto also called for the Government to cover the cost of prescriptions using a temporary fund which would help families like his constituents who are struggling to raise the money every month.
The MP has met with his constituents in Parliament on several occasions to raise awareness along with the ‘End our Pain’ Campaign group who represent the cohort of children with severe and rare forms of epilepsy and their parents.
Alberto, along with other members of the APPG, have also met with Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director for NHS England and Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer of the NHS this year to discuss the issues surrounding prescriptions on the NHS.
Alberto has also made appeals to the Prime Minister and to the Department of Health and Social Care on the need for a temporary fund to be set up to cover the costs and for better access to medical cannabis on the NHS.
Alberto, said: “I will continue to do everything I can to champion this issue in Parliament on behalf of my constituents. The cost of private prescriptions is astonishing and highly prohibitive for families who are struggling to raise the fund for this much needed and life changing medicine. Medicinal Cannabis helps to improve the quality of life for my young constituents, and I am disappointed that despite it being made legal in 2018 in specialist cases, my constituents are still unable to gain access to it on the NHS.”
Peter Carroll, Director of the End Our Pain Campaign, said: “Last night’s debate highlighted the cross-party support for ensuring better access and funding of medical cannabis in the UK. We are very grateful to all the MPs who took part and for the continued support of the APPG. However, it is beyond disappointing that it has been nearly three years since medical cannabis was legalised and there has been very little change and that these conservations are still being had.
It is unfair and unjust that so many families are forced to pay up to £2000 per month to afford private prescriptions, meanwhile three children have access on the NHS. Time and money are running out for many of these families. The Campaign supports Alberto’s call for a commitment from the Government to fund these families’ prescriptions as an interim solution. The Government must act now and intervene is this ongoing crisis.”