Prescription made for girl whose medicine was confiscated

Published: April 12 2019
Last updated: September 28 2022

A nine-year-old girl, whose cannabis oil had been confiscated at the airport on Saturday, has been given a prescription for the medicine from a UK specialist.

Teagan’s cannabis oil had been confiscated at the airport after her mother Emma Appleby brought the three-month supply into the UK illegally from the Netherlands on 6 April.

The family is now waiting to have the medicine returned by the government.

Teagan, from Aylesham, has a rare disorder and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and she can have up to 300 seizures a day.

The medicine had originally been prescribed by a paediatric neurologist in Rotterdam and had cost the family over £4,500.

The confiscation last Saturday left Ms Appleby in tears. She said she had been “passed from pillar to post” trying to access the medicine in the UK and that she was at her “wits’ end”. She had reportedly been refused an import licence on compassionate grounds for the medicine.

The law in the UK changed in November 2018 to allow specialist clinicians to prescribe cannabis-based medicines. However, since then, the guidance produced for prescribers has been criticised for being too restrictive.

Following the confiscation, a government spokesperson said prescribing cannabis-based medicine should be done by specialist hospital doctors and take into account clinical guidance. The spokesperson added that it is unlawful to import unlicensed cannabis-based medicines into the UK without a prescription and an importation licence.

On 8 April, an urgent question was brought forward in parliament by Sir Mike Penning MP, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Medicinal Cannabis on Prescription. He asked for a statement on this particular case and on the issues around people accessing cannabis-based medicines in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that without clinical authorisation, it is not possible to bring controlled substances into the country. He added that the government had “made available the opportunity for a second [clinical] opinion and the products have been held but not destroyed, as would normally be the case”.

The health secretary also said he is interested in hearing about specific cases to ensure that appropriate clinical decisions can be made.

Epilepsy Action’s chief executive, Philip Lee, said: “Teagan’s case shows that despite the recent change in the law, people with epilepsy are still experiencing problems accessing cannabis-based medicines. There needs to be a balance between the need for high-quality research into cannabis-based medicines for epilepsy and the immediate needs of children with very severe epilepsy who want access to these medicines as soon as possible.”

Ms Appleby is campaigning to have the medicine returned.