Hope that cannabis oil drug ‘vital’ for seriously ill boy will be made in UK after Brexit threatens supply

Product keeps 11-year-old out of hospital, says mother

Jane Dalton
Thursday 11 February 2021 21:32 GMT
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Ben Griffiths, who suffers from seizures, has improved since being on the oil
Ben Griffiths, who suffers from seizures, has improved since being on the oil

The mother of a seriously ill 11-year-old boy says she has been given fresh hope that a “life-saving" drug hit by Brexit will be produced in the UK.

Supplies of the cannabis oil product, which is produced in Europe and reduces seizures, were hit by Britain leaving the EU single market and customs union.

But Joanne Griffiths said she was buoyed by an announcement from Dutch firm Transvaal Apotheek that it was working with Scottish company Target Healthcare to produce the drug.

Mrs Griffiths, 45, from Preston, Lancashire, said it kept her epileptic son, Ben, out of hospital.

“It’s amazing news, it's fantastic,” she said. “It will be exactly the same product, same method to produce, the same medicine, essentially.”

There were concerns at the turn of the year that Ben's condition would deteriorate after supplies of the cannabis oil shipped in from the Netherlands were halted because there was no agreement between the EU and the UK on importing prescriptions.

She said: “To have the same product made here in the UK is wonderfuland hopefully means people will be able to access it much easier.

“We have obviously been very keen to keep Ben and other children out of hospital, so by keeping Ben on the same product, we think we’ve got a very good chance of that.”

Ben, who has four older sisters and a twin brother, has suffered seizures since birth. He has brain damage, cerebral palsy and autism.

When his condition is at its worst, he has up to 300 seizures a day.

But the cannabis oil he has been on for two years has given him the first seizure-free days of his life. He now typically has no more than five in a day, usually lasting just a few seconds.

Mrs Griffiths said her son's supplies of the oil, which had been due to run out this month, were boosted when the UK government struck a temporary deal with Dutch authorities to supply cannabis oil until July.

Charity Epilepsy Action has been in talks with the government over supplies.

Additional reporting by PA

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