Epileptic East Kilbride boy could be first child in Scotland to have live cannabis trial
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Cole Thomson’s mum pleaded her case to Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood in Holyrood who vowed to help the family.
Cole Thomson could become the first child in Scotland to undergo a live medical cannabis trial.
His mother’s crusade to access whole plant cannabis oil on the NHS took a giant leap forward this week when she pleaded her case in Holyrood in front of Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood.
Lisa Quarrell from East Kilbride has long-campaigned for seven-year-old Cole to be treated with epilepsy drug Bedrolite, which has transformed his life. But she has to fork out £840 a month for a private prescription.
Last year the ex-cop, from Newlandsmuir, admitted in a BBC documentary that she smuggled the cannabinoid from Holland to save her son’s life.
Her campaign hit another setback last week when she was unequivocally told by NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde they couldn’t provide a prescription for Cole.
But, after a year-long fight there could be light at the end of the tunnel for the family.
At a meeting in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, organised by Pauline McNeil MSP and pressure group Medicinal Cannabis Reform Scotland (MCRS), Dr Calderwood and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Professor Rose Marie Parr pledged to come up with solutions for patients waiting on an NHS Scotland prescription for cannabis-based medicines.
They also agreed to “open dialogue” with the NHS on what options Cole has to access a whole plant cannabis oil prescription. Campaigners were then thrilled to hear the suggestion that Cole could be part of a live trial that would grant him a free NHS Bedrolite prescription.
Lisa, 38, told the East Kilbride News:“Hearing the Chief Medical Officer saying she would help Cole, and do it in a short timescale, was phenomenal.“Both Prof Parr and Dr Calderwood were very sympathetic and listened with a view to finding a way to help me and seek what options we have through NHS Scotland.
“I feel reassured things are happening and look forward to what the next couple of weeks will bring.”
The mum-of-two added: “Cole has been on cannabis oil for 10 months – the longest of any child in Scotland. To take him off it now would be detrimental to his health.
“I’m paying £840 a month for a private prescription and the money is running out – we need to look at a long-term solution.
“I’m delighted he could now be part of the research and set a precedent for everyone. I’ve been told I will hear back within a few weeks what the outcome will be and I’m really hopeful they will stick to their word.”
MCRS founder Bernadette McCreadie was also delighted medical chiefs had committed themselves to the cause.
She said: “Catherine Calderwood turned up ready to help people, and not with rehearsed excuses. Both the CMO and the CPO are committed to finding a solution for everyone. In the short term the CMO has committed to helping these kids. And in the long-term, open a dialogue and look into trials.
“Dr Calderwood was also disturbed to hear about the trouble patients are having trying to have a conversation with their doctors about cannabis because it goes against everything in her ‘realistic medicine’ approach for NHS Scotland, and she has assured us she will address this matter.
“MCRS now have 31 cross-party MSP’s supporting our Right to Choose campaign and our push for a Scottish Cannabis Inquiry.
“We were told today the amount of politicians who willingly support us and attend our events is unprecedented. We have their attention but most of all we have their support. They know this is a problem they can’t ignore anymore.”
Anna Ross, Convener of the Scottish Drug Policy Conversations, said: “After four years of trying to engage with policy makers and politicians on the issue of medicinal cannabis we have finally got somewhere.
“The CMO seems genuinely engaged, and while other issues such as prescriptions for a wider range of conditions, and issues surrounding criminal justice measures are still to be addressed, we feel hopefully that finally we are beginning a respectful dialogue between all those concerned.”
The scheduling of cannabis- based products for medicinal use is reserved to the UK Government. The Scottish Government said it welcomes the prescription of such products where there is clear published evidence of benefit.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Watching a loved one suffering, especially a child, is heartbreaking and Ministers understand why Cole’s family feel so strongly about this.
“The Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer met with MSPs and other interested parties, including family members, last week to discuss cannabis-based products for medicinal use.
“The Chief Medical Officer will write to those in attendance to confirm the agreed actions following the meeting.”