A British mother who had medical cannabis seized by Border Force officials has had the “life-changing” medication returned to her following an exhausting ordeal.
Tegan Appleby, 9, suffers a rare, drug-resistant form of epilepsy.
Conventional medications have failed to help ease Tegan’s suffering. Despite doctor’s best efforts to control her seizures with ‘Government approved medications’, Tegan still suffered up to 300 potentially life-threatening seizures a day.
Desperate to end her daughter’s suffering, Emma Appleby, Tegan’s mother, was forced to travel to the Netherlands to acquire a prescription for the only medication proven to help: medical cannabis.
Despite the British Government legalising medical cannabis on the 1 Nov, 2018, Emma has been unable to get a prescription on the NHS for the “life-changing” medication, leaving the mother with no choice but to look abroad for doctors willing to prescribe the controversial medication to Tegan.
Tegan needs THC as well as CBD, meaning that CBD-only medications, such as GW Pharmaceutical’s Epidiolex, offer only very limited help.
Unfortunately for Tegan, this means that it is very unlikely she will be prescribed the medication she needs in the UK. The current guidelines for prescribing medical cannabis are very restrictive, to the point where not a single prescription for THC has been issued on the NHS.
Emma’s only hope was to travel to the Netherlands to bring back a private prescription for medical cannabis.
Private prescriptions for medical cannabis can cost patients £10,000s a year. Tegan’s three-month supply of medical cost the Appleby’s £2,500. The extortionate price for private prescriptions is unsustainable for families of severely ill children, forcing many to set up donation pages to help fund the cost.
Emma was detained by British Border Force officials on her return from the Netherlands with Tegan’s medication. Tegan’s medication was seized as Emma did not have an import license.
Not only do patients who need medical cannabis have to find a doctor willing to prescribe them an expensive private prescription and then pay for flights and hotel’s, but they also have to pay for an import license.
Tegan (centre), Emma (left), and Lee Moore, Tegan’s father, at Gatwick earlier this year after their medical cannabis was confiscated.
This is now the second time Tegan’s medication has been confiscated by British officials.
Thankfully, Tegan’s medication has now been returned to her.
“All I want is the best for my daughter – medical cannabis has transformed her life.”
– Emma Appleby, Mother & Medical Cannabis Warrior
Describing the “exhausting” ordeal to The I, Emma explained the success Tegan has seen with THC:
“All I want is the best for my daughter – medical cannabis has transformed her life.
“Since being administered with THC-bearing medical cannabis, Teagan’s seizure rate has plummeted from as many as 300 seizures a day to now maybe just a couple a day, and only when she is sleeping.
Bravery in the face of adversity: Tegan enjoys time with her family
“But I am being forced to raise thousands of pounds to pay privately for it, and to pay hundreds of pounds more to go abroad to actually get it and then fight all the bureaucracy to get it through customs.”
“I plead from the bottom of my heart to [health secretary] Matt Hancock and the NHS to sort this out.
“For the love of God, parents like me just can’t take much more either financially or emotionally.
“We are at breaking point and no-one seems to be getting a grip on this.”
Peter Carroll, director of End Our Pain, a leading campaign group for medical cannabis, also criticised the current framework for prescribing medical cannabis in the UK:
“Between them, the NHS and the medical professional bodies have issued guidance on prescribing medical cannabis that is so restrictive that even the high profile paediatric epilepsy cases of last year would most likely not qualify for a prescription under them.
“The medical profession seem totally resistant to accepting any evidence that medical cannabis works unless it comes from the same sort of trials that conventional pharmaceutical drugs go through.”
NHS England guidance says it expects that cannabis-based products for medicinal use should “only be prescribed for indications where there is clear published evidence of benefit” and in “patients where there is a clinical need which cannot be met by a licensed medicine and where established treatment options have been exhausted.”
The body of evidence for the efficacy of cannabis as a medicine has been rapidly growing over the past two decades, mainly emanating from Israel and the US, where there have been fewer restrictions on scientists researching the medical properties of cannabis.
Before 1 November 2018, cannabis was classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the UK, meaning the British Government viewed cannabis as having “no medicinal properties.”
Cannabis’ Schedule 1 status only meant scientists could only study cannabis if they were researching potential harm it could present. These restrictions have set back British research decades. British medical professionals’ knowledge of cannabis is years behind their American and Israeli counterparts.
Success stories like Tegan’s prove that cannabis can be a truly life-changing medication. Cannabis has reduced Tegan’s seizure-rate from 300 a month to just a handful.
It is becoming more and more untenable for the British Government and medical professionals to deny the efficacy of cannabis as an effective and safe medicine.