Patients prescribed medical cannabis for severe epilepsy will now have access to a UK supply of Dutch Bedrocan oils, it has been confirmed.
In a letter sent to patients and interested parties, a government official confirmed that a UK supply of Bedrocan medical cannabis oil has been established.
Glasgow-based Target Healthcare will now manufacture the high-CBD Bedrolite, and high-THC Bedica oils, which are prescribed to a number of patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy. Until now these have been dispensed by the Transvaal pharmacy in the Netherlands.
The validation process for the production of the Bedrocan THCA oil has also commenced and the company has said they expect to be able to supply all oils used by UK patients before the end of September.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Social Care said that the firm had been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to manufacture cannabis-based products for medicinal use.
The need for a UK supply of the oils emerged in December 2020, when families were given two weeks’ notice that their medication could no longer be dispensed from the Netherlands, following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, 2020.
In response to calls from campaigners, the Dutch government agreed to continue supplying the life-saving products while a more permanent solution was reached.
According to the letter, the government is now continuing to ‘work closely with the supply chain’ and the Dutch Government to ensure patients continue to receive their medicines until domestic production is complete.
Hannah Deacon, a co-founder of Medcan Support, whose son Alfie was one of those affected by the supply issues, welcomed the news but said the focus now needs to be on making the products more financially accessible for families.
“It is welcome news that the production of Bedrocan oils is now happening in the UK, and hopefully soon the final products such as THCA will also be available,” she commented.
“This development came about following a media push to ensure the government allowed the continued supply of prescriptions to keep patients safe. Whilst this means a secure supply for patients, it does not take away the fact that these products are hugely expensive to pay for personally via the private sector.
“Our focus must remain on ensuring NHS funded access is made available especially to children with epilepsy whose parents are continuing to raise up to £2,000 a month to keep their children safe and out of hospital. There are two funded prescriptions of Bedrocan products on the NHS and it’s long overdue for all prescriptions to be funded.”
Hannah’s thoughts were echoed by Karen Gray, whose son Murray is prescribed Bedica oil. Karen is one of the parents who co-founded the charity, Intractable Epilepsy, to help raise funds to financially support families paying for private prescriptions.
“Intractable are pleased that Target Healthcare are now making Bedrolite and Bedica in their UK facility. This means there will continue to be a constant supply to patients and the Brexit worries are finally over,” Karen said.
“Unfortunately the price is still the same, at a very high cost to families. Intractable has been set up as a charity to raise funds to pay the invoices for these families until the oils become available through the NHS.”
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