- Jorja Emerson, from County Down in Northern Ireland, is given cannabis oil
- Her father, Robin, said a pharmaceutical firm is doing what the NHS should do
- He said the free supply of medicine could save his daughter’s life
A three-year-old girl with severe epilepsy is now being given medicinal cannabis for free by a Canadian company because the NHS won’t give it to her.
Jorja Emerson, from Dundonald in Northern Ireland, has been given cannabis oil by her father since December last year after it was legalised in the UK.
But her family has faced a gauntlet trying to get their hands on the medicine, which reportedly cuts her number of daily seizures from 30 to as few as three.
Her father Robin, 33, claims the NHS won’t prescribe her the medicine she needs so Canadian firm Aphria has staged a ‘life-saving’ intervention.
Jorja Emerson will be given the treatment free of charge by Canadian medical cannabis producer Aphria, according to her father, Robin
Jorja has a severe form of epilepsy which, her family say, can cause as many as 30 seizures per day without cannabis medicine, which reduces them to three or four
Jorja has epilepsy so severe her family has feared for her life but say cannabis oil – from a firm called Tilray – improves her condition.
Mr Emerson has been buying the medication at a cost of £1,000 per month since December after getting a prescription through a private doctor.
But he has to travel to London to pick up the prescription from the pharmacy which agreed to provide it.
He said the family has spent around £30,000 on Jorja’s healthcare since she was diagnosed in 2017, and are now struggling to cover the cost.
However, Aphria, a medicinal cannabis company based in Nanaimo, Canada, has reportedly been moved by the toddler’s plight and is sending the drug for free.
It is unclear how long the company has agreed to supply the medicine for, or whether it will be sent in the post. The legal status of sending it in the post is currently unclear.
Mr Emerson said: ‘Until this is sorted, families will have to continue travelling abroad to obtain medicine for their children illegally or, like me, go private to get help for our children.
‘Aphria have done what the NHS should have done and put Jorja first.
‘The team in Canada are full of emotion knowing that they have saved my daughter’s life.’
The British Government legalised cannabis medicines containing the psychoactive chemical THC in November last year.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the policy change after months of pressure from the parents of children with life-threatening epilepsy.
Jorja Emerson’s family were reportedly having to pay around £1,000 per month to get a private supply of cannabis oil to keep her condition under control
Jorja’s father has been battling to get his daughter access to the drug he calls ‘lifesaving’ since medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK in November last year
Despite the landmark law change, access to the medicines has not been a smooth ride, according to parents and experts.
It can only be prescribed by specialist doctors and a professor at Newcastle University said in February the medical community is being ‘overcautious’.
Mike Barnes, an expert of neurological rehabilition, told the British Medical Journal: ‘Not one patient has benefited from a cannabis prescription on the NHS.
‘The legislation has had no impact on the health of people due to the lack of education of the medical community and overcautious guidelines produced by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association.’
Jorja is believed to have been one of the first people in the UK to have been prescribed cannabis after the law change.
Her father has said in the past the medicine is ‘the difference between life and death’ for her.
In January he criticised the process and told The Times: ‘The process has been totally outrageous.
‘The government and the medical establishment are putting money into the pockets of drug dealers.
‘These parents are unable to get help through legal channels. A child is going to die unless this is sorted out.’
The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.