Vera Twomey 'delighted' access to medicinal cannabis continues amid Covid-19 outbreak

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, today announced an initiative for patients who avail of a Ministerial licence for medicinal cannabis products to have the products delivered from Holland to Ireland.
Vera Twomey 'delighted' access to medicinal cannabis continues amid Covid-19 outbreak
Ms Twomey frequently travels to the Netherlands to fill her medicinal cannabis prescription. File picture.

Medicinal cannabis campaigner, Vera Twomey, who fought a lengthy campaign to secure medicinal cannabis for her sick daughter has said she is "beyond relieved" that the Department of Health is facilitating the delivery of the medicine from abroad for persons with a license.

Ms Twomey and several other patients throughout the country frequently travel to the Netherlands to fill their medicinal cannabis prescription.

However, the outbreak of Covid-19 has created havoc with travel plans causing much uncertainty for patients.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, today announced an initiative for patients who avail of a Ministerial licence for medicinal cannabis products to have the products delivered from Holland to Ireland.

He said: "I am aware that the limited number of patients who avail of a Ministerial licence for medicinal cannabis products issued under section 14 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts have been encountering difficulties with access owing to travel restrictions and people’s need to self-isolate.

"I am very glad we have been able to make arrangements to have an emergency supply of their products collected for them in Holland, where the products are supplied, and to have the products delivered to the patients in Ireland."

Ms Twomey, who lives in Aghabullogue, Co Cork said she was "delighted" with the development. However, she hopes the arrangement continues beyond the emergency period.

She said: "During this time of crisis we see that it really is possible for Bedrocan medical cannabis to be brought to Ireland our hope will be this situation will continue into the future.

"My daughter Ava was the first patient to be assisted and we are as a family beyond relieved that these measures are being put in place for everyone.

"For our family who are getting Ava’s medication reimbursed we are grateful for the delivery which provides security for our family and our daughter's health.

I certainly do not want to appear ungrateful in these difficult times but do think its necessary to point out that this delivery of medication needs to be made a permanent arrangement into the future for patients.

Also, it needs to become normal that prescribed medical cannabis is reimbursed as any other prescribed pharma medication would be under the long term illness scheme."

Meanwhile, Ms Twomey has asked that members of the public consider vulnerable children like her nine-year-old daughter, Ava, during the Covid-19 crisis.

She said: "Do you need to be reminded as you fight off the virus you could be in contact with a little child who can’t fight it off the same way you can?

"Or perhaps you met her family in the supermarket without even knowing when they were shopping for essentials unaware that you were out on the rip without a care in the world during the week and they picked the virus off of you.

"Please if you have a choice make a positive one and stay at home."

Ms Twomey recently published a book detailing her experiences.

She said that they ran out of options to treat Dravet Syndrome the rare form of epilepsy which her daughter suffers from.

She said: "There was nothing there for Ava other than Google and things like that. We did find some information.

"Now because of medical cannabis she is not on any pharmaceutical medication. She is moving forward."

Ms Twomey said that prior to her usage of medicinal cannabis Ava was having up to 23 seizures in 26 hours.

She said seizures were terrifying experiences as she never knew if her daughter would come out of one intact.

"The fear was that Ava would end up brain damaged or even dead.

"The ambulance service call outs were so regular for Ava that they didn't need to ask her address."

She said that her life prior to obtaining medicinal cannabis for Ava was one of constant stress, pain and anxiety.

"Every waking moment was consumed by it. I operated under constant fear and tension waiting for the next seizure. It was coming though you never knew when -- but as sure as day it was coming."

Ms Twomey spoke in the House of Commons in London last year where she explained the benefits of the alternative medicine in treating conditions such as severe epilepsy.

The mother of three rose to national prominence during a three-year campaign to secure access to medicinal cannabis to treat Ava’s condition.

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