Billy Caldwell: GP says ‘ethical issue’ in not allowing cannabis

A GP, who prescribed medicinal cannabis to a County Tyrone boy to treat uncontrollable epilepsy, has been told he cannot do so again. In 2017, 12-year-old Billy Caldwell became the first person in the UK to receive the NHS prescription. Dr Brendan O’Hare said there is an “ethical issue” in not allowing Billy to have medicinal cannabis. His mother, Charlotte Caldwell, said his seizures had dramatically reduced while taking the cannabis oil. Last week when she went to renew the prescription she was told it would not be possible.

After initially prescribing the medicinal cannabis, Dr O’Hare had been told by the Department of Health and the health board last year he should not continue to do so.

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland said it did not comment on individual cases, but added that Cannabis is a Class B controlled drug and has not yet been licensed in the UK as a medicine.

“However, an application made by a specialist clinician based in the UK to prescribe a Schedule 1 controlled drug on the basis of relevant medical and scientific evidence and guidance may be considered within existing legislative provisions and appropriate clinical supervision arrangements.

“No such clinically supported applications have been received by the department,” it confirmed.

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