Two-year-old with severe epilepsy ‘unable to obtain medical cannabis in UK’

A two-year-old girl who was prescribed medical cannabis cannot yet receive treatment as no UK pharmacy holds a licence to sell it, according to her father.

Jorja Emerson, who suffers from severe epilepsy, is believed to be the first child in the UK to be prescribed the drug.

However, after her family fought for weeks to secure the landmark prescription from a private hospital in London on Monday, they have now been told they face a further delay in obtaining treatment.

Jorja Emerson treatment
Two-year old Jorja Emerson who is believed to be the first child to be prescribed medical cannabis since the drug was rescheduled in November (Family hanout/PA)

Robin Emerson, Jorja’s 33-year-old entrepreneur father, said: “We are letting bureaucracy get in the way of saving children’s lives.

“Jorja is entitled to her medication and it’s legal. There should be no issue.”

She urgently needs the treatment, he added, and currently has a chest infection which is “setting off her seizures”.

He added: “Anything could happen.”

A Government spokesman pointed out that medical cannabis “can be imported using appropriately licensed pharmaceutical wholesalers”.

However, Robin said this process could take “weeks or months”.

Jorja Emerson treatment
Robin Emerson with his daughter Jorja (Family handout/PA)

Responding to Jorja’s case, Sir Mike Penning MP, who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prescribed Use of Medical Cannabis, said: “Parents like Robin already have more than a head full, coping with the stresses and strains of caring for very sick children.

“The last thing they need is a long and tortuous process to actually get the medicine that’s been prescribed.

“This assault course of bureaucracy needs sorting out once and for all.

“But in the meantime, if this prescription isn’t sorted soon I’m minded to ask a small cross party group of MPs led by myself and my co-chair Tonia Antoniazzi to go and get it from Canada and give it to Robin for Jorja.”

Robin said that for Jorja, the treatment is “the difference between her living and dying”.

Jorja, who is from Dundonald in County Down, Northern Ireland, suffers up to 30 seizures each day.

Robin said he will not leave London until he has obtained the drug.

The Government spokesman added: “There are already a range of products that can be supplied and we are working closely with a range of other manufacturers to ensure a wider range is available for specialists to prescribe for their patients.”

There are a small number of patients already receiving the treatment following lawful importation, he added, and no Home Office import licences have been refused from appropriately licensed pharmaceutical wholesalers in relation to medical cannabis.

He would not comment on the individual case.

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