Nicola Sturgeon rejects Edinburgh teen's plea for disabled brother’s cannabis treatment
Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed a teen’s heartfelt plea for his disabled brother to receive potentially life-changing cannabis oil treatment.
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Dean Gray delivered a heartfelt letter to Bute House asking the First Minister to help fund cannabis oil medical treatment for his brother Murray, who has a complex form of epilepsy.
But the 13-year-old schoolboy was crushed by Sturgeon's response which said “stronger evidence” is needed before the Scottish Government can offer financial support.
Sturgeon went on to say that she was “deeply sorry” for the difficulties Dean Gray and his family are facing and has asked the government’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer to explore alternative avenues of support.
Dean’s mum Karen Gray, 47, said the family has already explored every option to control her son Murray Gray’s seizures which are caused by his rare and complex form of epilepsy.
The only effective treatment is Bedrolite, a cannabis oil from the Netherlands, which eight-year-old Murray has been taking for two years.
The treatment has completely stopped the young boy’s seizures, before taking the oil Murray would have up to a hundred seizures a day.
The medication costs £1,300 each month and the Gray family, who must foot the bill themselves, are running out of money.
In his letter to the First Minister, Dean begged for financial aid and said it is not fair that his parents have to spend so much money on medicine that the government has agreed is safe and legal for use in the UK.
Dean is “very disappointed” with the First Minister’s response and the family are still holding out hope that she will change her mind.
“I am grateful that the First Minister wrote back, however, I am infuriated that nothing is being done to help and Dean is feeling very disappointed,” said Ms Gray.
I am devastated that Ms Sturgeon appears to have either not understood the letter from Murray’s brother Dean or has understood the issues but decided not to act.
“Mrs Sturgeon raises the issue of safety but three children in the UK already have an NHS prescription. If such a prescription is safe in those cases surely it would be safe for Murray.
“I’m going to write back to the First Minister to explain that Murray already has a specialist clinician writing Murray’s prescription. She is a private paediatric neurologist in London. It it wasn’t safe she wouldn’t prescribe it.”
“The government must step in”
Dean’s letter was delivered to Bute House on June 16 coinciding with the three year anniversary of the first long term licence to use medical cannabis in the UK.
In June 2018 the then UK home secretary Sajid Javid granted Alfie Dingley the first individual long term licence to use medical cannabis in the UK.
Today, three children in the UK have NHS prescriptions for medical cannabis and the Gray family has asked the First Minister to reconsider the request and provide Murray with a similar prescription.
Local MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has previously urged the government to pay for Murray’s medical fees.
He said: "The Government must step in and cover the cost of private prescriptions that many people like Karen are currently having to cover themselves."