A Lanarkshire single mum is begging the Scottish Government for help as the cost of her son’s ‘life-saving’ cannabis medication has doubled in just four years.
Lisa Quarrell forks out over £1,500 every 28 days for Bendrolite; a cannabis-based oil to prevent her 11-year-old son, Cole Thomson, from having dangerous seizures. Just four years ago this cost was around £750, according to Lisa.
Cole lost a huge chunk of his childhood, suffering up to 20 seizures a day for six years, due to his rare and drug-resistant focal epilepsy.
Lisa, from East Kilbride, has had to find more than £80,000 over the years to afford twice-daily injections of the oil that is placed via syringe under Cole’s tongue.
Cutting ‘red-tape’ is what the ‘exhausted’ mum previously told would end her battle and have the drug prescribed on the NHS.
Kind locals and businesses have meanwhile raised tens of thousands to help the young family but Lisa, 42, knows ‘donations won’t last forever’.
The project officer is also snowed under with electricity bills that have ‘more than doubled’ while ‘paying £200 more each month’ for her mortgage.
An ‘exhausted’ Lisa now demands ‘answers’ from First Minister Humza Yousaf, who promised when he was health minister he would look into her case, and is begging for financial help.
She told Glasgow Live: “As Cole grows bigger he will need a higher dosage of Bendrolite, so the cost will go up.
“I cannot get over how kind people and businesses have been in fundraising over the years, it’s really overwhelming and has helped so much.
“But it’s a sad fact, Cole is 11 years old, he’s not a ‘cute wee boy’ anymore. We need financial help for the foreseeable. There is no ‘end goal’ or ‘end point’ like an operation for example. People may start to get annoyed and stop donating.
“That’s really worrying as we need this drug to save his life.”
We told how Cole receives the cannabinoid Bedrolite privately as his NHS consultant is not allowed to prescribe unlicensed medical cannabis due to a lack of robust evidence of the drug’s safety, quality or efficacy.
Since taking Bedrolite Cole is seizure-free and has gone from being confined to a wheelchair with limited speech to training in Taekwondo.
Despite the ‘clear evidence’ in Cole’s case a four-year battle for government funding has resulted in nothing, leaving the family no option but to keep paying for a private medical cannabis prescription.
Lisa added: “When Humza Yousaf was Health Minister he promised me ‘as a father and a step-father’ that he would ‘look into and sort’ our issue as he ‘could not understand’ why we weren’t getting the help we needed.
“Since he became First Minister I cannot get through to him, emails I send don’t take priority.
“The Government have said in the past that they are awaiting more trials to get more evidence to enable the drug to be prescribed, but I’ve seen nothing of that.
“In the meantime, could the Government not provide some sort of funding for families in my position?”
Cole’s health updates are documented on the Cole’s Campaign Facebook page. National CBD Oil Day is today, Tuesday August 8.
A Scottish Government Spokesperson said: “We have enormous sympathy for Cole Thomson and his family, and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer is in regular contact with them. We deeply appreciate the very difficult situation any family will face in these circumstances.
“The regulation, licensing and supply of medicines remain reserved to the UK Government – this includes the scheduling of Cannabis Based Products for Medicinal Use (CBPMs) – and the Scottish Government has no power to alter this while responsibility rests with Westminster.
“As the First Minister pledged, the Scottish Government will continue to work with the UK Government, as well as explore internally what further support we could provide families like Ms Quarrell’s who find themselves in this very difficult situation through no fault of their own.”
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