Mother has medical cannabis for epileptic child confiscated at airport

Mother has medical cannabis for epileptic child confiscated at airport

Emma Appleby (left), Lee Moore and their daughter Teagan who has severe epilepsy.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A mother who tried to bring medical cannabis into the UK illegally in a bid to help her severely epileptic daughter has had it confiscated at the airport.

Campaigner Emma Appleby flew back to Britain from the Netherlands on Saturday morning with her partner Lee, carrying a supply of medical cannabis oils for nine-year-old Teagan.

But the items, which cost £4,600, were seized after the family landed at Southend Airport in Essex.

Teagan, from Aylesham near Dover, suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder called Isodicentric 15 as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which causes up to 300 seizures a day.

The family flew out on Thursday, got the medicine prescribed by a paediatric neurologist at the Erasmus Hospital in Rotterdam, collected it from a pharmacy and paid using their own and fundraised money.

The law in the UK was changed last November to make access to medical cannabis legal but parents have been struggling to secure prescriptions, in part due to reluctance within the medical community.

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".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the Commons last month that his "heart goes out" to parents experiencing anguish over difficulties in obtaining medicinal cannabis.

He said he is working to "unblock" some of the challenges in the system but, ultimately, "these things need to be clinician-led".

Ms Appleby, who has met Mr Hancock, said she had no choice but to seek medical cannabis outside the UK. But the items were taken from her at the airport.

She said border staff were told not to destroy the medicine but to seize it and hold it, and she hopes to apply for an import licence to get it back.

Ms Appleby's MP, Conservative Charlie Elphicke, has been pushing the Home Office to grant a licence for cannabis oil treatment for Teagan.

A Government spokesman said: "We took swift action to help those who can benefit from cannabis-based medicinal products and specialist doctors are now able to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use to patients who have an unmet need and where there is evidence of benefit.

"The decision to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use is a clinical decision for specialist hospital doctors, made with patients and their families, taking into account clinical guidance, which is based on the best international evidence.

"It is unlawful to import unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use to the UK without the prescription of a specialist doctor and a Home Office importation licence.

"These products can be imported using appropriately licensed pharmaceutical wholesalers."

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