BROMSGROVE MP and Home Secretary Sajid Javid has granted the UK’s first ever ‘life-changing’ permanent medical licence for cannabis to help an epileptic youngster.
The desperate family of Alfie Dingley have been campaigning for the six-year-old to legally receive cannabis oil to treat his rare form of the condition.
And, on the back of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell being granted a limited licence this week for a 20-day supply of medical cannabis to treat severe epilepsy, Alfie’s mum Hannah Deacon called on Mr Javid to intervene in her son’s case.
In the House of Commons yesterday he announced Alfie would be granted a permanent licence and also apologised for how long it had taken for the licence to be issued.
He said: “As a father, I know there is nothing worse than seeing your child suffer. I would do anything to take away their pain.
“That is why I have the utmost sympathy for Billy Caldwell, Alfie Dingley, and many others like them – and for their parents, who have been under unimaginable stress and strain.
“I am sorry Hannah Deacon had to wait so long.”
Mum-of-two Hannah said: “It’s a permanent and long-term licence, the first of it’s kind in the country. We are so happy.
“I am very overwhelmed. For me and Alfie it’s life changing.”
Alfie used to suffer around 30 epileptic fits a day but when taking the drug they dropped to as few as one a month.
In April the Deacon family, who live in Kennilworth, first applied to the Government for a medical licence to use the drug.
They said Alfie’s condition improved ‘drastically’ in Holland where the treatment is legal, but were forced to return home after funds started to dwindle.
The youngster suffers from a type of epilepsy known as PCDH19, which affects just nine children in the world and causes catastrophic clusters of seizures which are unresponsive to anti-epilepsy drugs.
Billy, who is from Northern Ireland, also takes the cannabis oil to control his seizures but had the drugs seized at Heathrow Airport last week when he and his mum returned from Canada where Billy had been treated.
His mother Charlotte believed his condition deteriorated after being deprived of the drug and he was hospitalised.
Since being given the oil he has been discharged and is recovering at home.
Alfie and Billy’s use of the drugs has shone a light on the use of cannabis oil to treat some health conditions and the Government now says it will be looking at cases on an individual basis.
A panel of clinicians will now be set up to advise the government on applications to prescribe cannabis-based medicines.
When making his announcement Mr Javid also made it clear the recreational use of cannabis would still remain illegal.