Up to 90 children with severe epilepsy will have early access to medicinal cannabis in Victoria, as the state sets its sights on becoming the country’s leading exporter.
Victoria became the first state to legalize medicinal cannabis in 2016. And they have also successfully trialed imported products on 29 children with severe epilepsy. But now the state government will fund up to 60 more treatments over the next two years.
“These are children for whom, very sadly, the long-term prognosis is not always a positive one. They simply cannot afford to wait until the Commonwealth funding arrangements catch up,”
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said on Wednesday.
She continued on to say that, “For many of these children, this medication has led to a reduction in seizures. It is making an incredibly important difference in their daily lives and in the lives of their families.”
Victoria is on the rise
The announcement came after the Federal Government legalized medicinal cannabis exports from Australian producers. Victoria has now released an industry development plan to grow half of those exports by 2028. Australia is looking to be the leading country in this market.
“It’s been driven from a very strong technological base in terms of the agricultural technology and medical technology in Australia, punching above its weight on a global basis,” said Peter Crock, the CEO of medicinal cannabis research company Cann Group.
“It’s very early days but very exciting.”
As of right now, treatments cost around $800 a week. As a result, the Victorian government and advocacy groups want them included in the pharmaceutical health benefits.
The Australian Medical Association is hopeful
“The indications are small and not that expansive,” AMA Vice-President Tony Bartone said.
“It isn’t going to be a magic potion we can use in every difficult case, but we’re going to be guided by the evidence.”
More than 70 patients from Victoria have applied to the federal government for treatment, including both children and adults. One of them was Cooper Wallace.
Cooper became very severely disabled after a bacterial infection weeks after he was born. For that reason, there was no quality of life for him. His parents said without medicinal cannabis treatment, he may not have lived to see his seventh birthday.
“He used to have anything upwards of 80 plus seizures a day. He was always in the hospital,”
Cooper’s mother Cassie Batten said.
Furthermore, Cooper’s father Rhett Wallace said his son’s use of medicinal cannabis has allowed him to grow. After administrating cannabis, Cooper’s life turned around. Finally, he is experiencing an improved quality of life.