Cannabis-based medicinal products now legally available but... Billy Caldwell forced to go back to Canada for treatment

Castlederg boy, Billy Caldwell, has returned to Canada to access life-saving treatment.

That is despite last Thursday's decision to allow Cannabis-based products for medicinal use to be prescribed by specialist hospital doctors in Northern Ireland for their patients with an unmet clinical need.

Billy (13) suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, the symptoms of which can be treated with medicinal cannabis.

It was his health crisis that was one of the main factors that triggered the creation of a new government panel to examine applications for the plant therapy in the UK.

The introduction of the new rules last week were geared to remove the need for prescribing, supply and possession licences to be issued by the Department of Health and came after several high profile cases whose medical conditions appeared to be improved by cannabis oil - particularly that of Billy.

In their statement on Thursday, the Department of Health stressed that it was important that prescribing decisions were taken by expert clinicians informed by evidence on quality, safety and effectiveness.

"Therefore, prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use is restricted to clinicians listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council. Cannabis-based products for medicinal use will not be available from General Practitioners.

"This approach mirrors similar changes occurring in England, Scotland and Wales and ensures that patients living in Northern Ireland are able to access cannabis-based products for medicinal use on the same terms as patients elsewhere in the UK."

Full report in this week's Tyrone Constitution.

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