Patients in Britain with severe forms of epilepsy who have a prescription for Bedrocan cannabis oil may continue to obtain it from a pharmacy in The Netherlands.
The news comes as the end of the Brexit transition period caused concern that 42 patients in the UK, including some children, would no longer have access to the medicine.
The British government said it was ‘working urgently’ with Dutch officials to find a solution, after a pharmacy in The Netherlands stopped dispensing Bedrocan to those in possession of a British prescription.
In an update on January 21, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:
“We have agreed a way forward with the Dutch Government on the supply of Bedrocan oil to UK patients, which will bring relief to the families who depend on these medicines.
“We are grateful to the Dutch Government for working with us closely and quickly on this solution, which will last until 1 July.
“We are exploring more permanent solutions to ensure people who need these treatments can continue to access them.”
Earlier, a spokesperson for the Dutch pharmacy at the centre of the issue told The CANNAVIST the Brexit deal reached before the new year would no longer allow for the export of the medicine to patients in the UK.
In a letter seen by The CANNAVIST, the Department of Health and Social Care said:
“The Dutch Government has today confirmed that they will allow continued supply of Bedrocan oil against UK prescriptions for existing patients only, until 1 July 2021.
“The Dutch Government is clear that this interim solution is only open to existing patients; no new patients can be initiated in Bedrocan products from The Netherlands.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health in the UK added it will seek a permanent solution with input from patient representatives for the future.
“We are committed to use that time to establish a permanent solution. We are considering a range of options and will engage with patient representatives about these.”
Following the announcement of the short-term solution agreed by both the British and Dutch governments, Transvaal Pharmacy said it will soon be working with a UK-based manufacturing partner in the months to come, saying:
“We are glad to announce that within a couple of months the Transvaal Apotheek will work with Target Healthcare to produce the cannabis oil in the UK.
“As health care providers we feel that it is our duty to continue the supply for this small group of patients who rely on our products. For these patients switching to other cannabis-based products can lead to serious adverse events.”
Target Healthcare, based in Scotland, is a pharmaceutical wholesaler supplying generic, branded and unlicensed medicines across the UK.
Is medical cannabis in short supply in the UK?
Reports in the national media that a number of patients with a prescription for Bedrocan would have their supply cut off, due to the end of the Brexit transition period, caused great concern among the patient community.
Many feared that this was a sign of things to come for all cannabis-based medicinal products in the UK.
However, Ed McDermott, Managing Director of EMMAC Life Sciences, told The CANNAVIST this week that despite there being some disruption to this one medicine, the UK’s supply chain of medical cannabis products is ‘healthier than ever.’
The co-founder of EMMAC, which operates a vertically integrated cannabis model, said patients need to know ‘there is no systemic issue with access bar this one particular product.’