SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has welcomed NHS England’s approval of two cannabis-based medicines used to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
He has urged the Department of Health to back NICE recommendations, to make Epidyolex and Sativex available in the North.
Said the Foyle: “Today’s announcement is welcome news for many campaigners and people across England who suffer from debilitating conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
“It too provides hope for those living with chronic conditions in the North, that a similar implementation can be secured here.
“This is an issue that I and the SDLP have worked hard to progress and prior to the collapse of the Assembly, I met with the previous Health Minister to discuss the importance of the legislating on medicinal cannabis.
“And whilst there has been progress on this issue with the Department of Health announcing that cannabis-based medicinal products could be described by doctors without a license, it does not go far enough.
“It is also lamentable that it took Billy Caldwell to take extremely ill before movement was made on this issue
“Yet the reality remains that in the absence of an Executive, this vitally important issue like many others, has been stalled.”
The former Stomront Minister said it was “imperative” that the Department now take on the baton and ensure that patients here can access the same treatments available across the water.
He added: “I have written to Health Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly to outline the Department’s current position and to ascertain if access to these drugs can be secured for the North.
“There must be a compassionate response to those with chronic illnesses.
“By securing this life-changing treatment we can improve the lives of many people here living with debilitating illnesses.
“People cannot continue to wait in pain.”