Parents Fear as Brexit Cuts Off Supply of ‘Life Saving’ Cannabis-based Medication

31st January 2021

Supplies of medical cannabis have been halted due to Brexit, which has left around 40 parents fearing for their child’s safety as they were reliant on the medication. 

One case is that of Alfie Dingley, a 9 year old boy, who used to experience up to 150 seizures a day, which led to his mother campaigning for the use of cannabis-based medications. The campaign was successful and from 2017 Alfie has been receiving prescriptions of a cannabis-based medication from the Netherlands. 

However, on the 15th December, Hannah Deacon, mother to Alife, received a letter informing that she would no longer be able to fulfill his usual prescription. The outraged mother was “terrified” and aghast at how the UK government could offer just 2 weeks notice on the termination of a medication that her son so crucially needs. 

She commented: “They [the DHSC] said they understand our concern but they can’t do anything. Well, let me tell them, it is not concerning, it is terrifying,” 

“It’s very, very dangerous and I’m really frightened about what is going to happen,”

Although debates as to the effectiveness of cannabis-based medications are ongoing, the simple fact remains that Alfie has been seizure free since he started using them. Swapping to another medication isn’t as simple as it may first seem either and any change to prescription can have disastrous consequences. 

It’s estimated that 40 other children in the UK will be affected by the inability to source cannabis-based medications from the Netherlands. Campaigners have called it “a matter of life and death” for many families. 

It’s not just parents who are fearing for the safety of these children either. Neurologist, Mike Barnes, has also commented that this panic is by no means exaggerated and noted that as many as 1 out of 2 of these 40 children could die if the supply is cut. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care was quoted as saying: “We sympathise with patients dealing with challenging conditions and there is a range of alternative cannabis-based medicines available to UK patients.”

The idea that there are alternatives available may be a very naive one. As with most types of epilepsy medications, there are, of course, alternatives. But finding a medication that is effective is usually the sum of a great deal of trial and error and one medication may not work as effectively as another, despite their intention to do so. 

Similar stories are being told throughout the UK as the impact of Brexit is felt hardest by those who rely on the import of medications from EU countries. It’s imperative that the UK government do all that it possible can to ensure that those who need these medications still have access to them, lest we find ourselves in a situation where people could end up seriously ill or perhaps even dying needlessly due to politics. 

National Epilepsy Training can help

If you’re worried about medication restraints due to Brexit and the impact it may have on you or someone you care for, please contact us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.com