Children with severe epilepsy chosen as first patients to legally receive medicinal cannabis in Victoria

A group of 29 critically ill children have been chosen as the first patients to legally access medicinal cannabis in Victoria.
The Andrews Government purchased the cannabidiol liquid from Canada after changes to federal laws last year.
The children all have severe intractable epilepsy and have multiple daily seizures.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the children were nominated by paediatric neurologists to receive the treatment and then assessed by a clinical panel.
"We know this medicine can dramatically change the quality of life for some of Victoria's very sick kids," she said.
"This means families will no longer have to make the heartbreaking choice between breaking the law or watching their kids suffer."
Ms Hennessy said the cost to the Government over a 12-month period would be about $1 million.
"We know this medicine can dramatically change the quality of life for some of Victoria's very sick kids," she said.
"This means families will no longer have to make the heart-breaking choice between breaking the law or watching their kids suffer."
Melbourne mother Ally Tregent said her five-year-old daughter Gemma, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, began the treatment last week.
"The last year has been particularly difficult for her, she hasn't been able to attend kinder or [have] much involvement in anything due to her seizures," Ms Tregent said.
"So we're hoping that with this new medication we'll get some better results."
Ms Tregent said Gemma had an average of 40 seizures a day.
"We haven't actually noticed any difference as yet, but it's something that has to be increased over time so I imagine it will take a few months before we'll see any difference," she said.

Plan for adult eligibility to be determined

Ms Hennessy said critically ill children would be given priority access to the drug, but the next step was to determine which adults would be eligible for the treatment.
"Whether or not that's cancers, whether or not that's general palliative care, that will depend on how we test and manufacture the product that we're developing," she said.
The first batch of the product grown and manufactured in Victoria will be available in the middle of the year.
South Australian resident Shylie Holden, 81, has Parkinson's disease and found a major improvement in her symptoms when taking the drug.
However using medical cannabis in her home state is illegal.
"The benefits for me of taking medical marijuana have been cessation of tremors completely," she said.
"I'm sleeping better, eating better and am generally more tranquil and not anxious."
"Whether or not that's cancers, whether or not that's general palliative care, that will depend on how we test and manufacture the product that we're developing," she said. Last year, Victoria became the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise access to medicinal cannabis. 



 The first batch of the product grown and manufactured in Victoria will be available in the middle of the year. South Australian resident Shylie Holden, 81, has Parkinson's disease and found a major improvement in her symptoms when taking the drug. However using medical cannabis in her home state is illegal. "The benefits for me of taking medical marijuana have been cessation of tremors completely," she said. "I'm sleeping better, eating better and am generally more tranquil and not anxious." Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
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