DDB rolls out medical cannabis plans
MANILA, Philippines — Julia Mapa-Cleofas is 5 years old and suffers from a number of ailments, including Dravet syndrome — a severe form of epilepsy with prolonged seizures that are often triggered by hot temperatures and fever.
She was only 5 weeks old when she was prescribed a combination of 11 types of antiepileptic drugs. But the medications couldn’t stop the seizures.
She is one of an estimated 250,000 Filipino children suffering from epileptic seizure disorder.
The Dangerous Drugs Board’s (DDB) recent approval in principle of a resolution to allow the use of cannabidiol (CBD) — a nonpsychoactive component in cannabis — to treat epileptic seizures has given Julia’s mother hope that her child would finally find some relief.
However, the medicine is only available in the United States. Worse, Epidiolex, the CBD oral solution approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of patients with Dravet syndrome, costs $32,500 (approximately P1.6 million) good for one year.
DDB Undersecretary Benjie Reyes told the Inquirer that Sen. Bong Go, chair of the Senate health and sports committee, is working to have a budget allocation amendment for Epidiolex to be given free to patients.
Mothers with children suffering from other diseases, such as aggressive forms of cancer, also welcome the DDB’s resolution, which reclassifies medicines containing CBD.
Asked about President Duterte’s take on medical marijuana, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday said he had always been fine with its use to address illnesses.
But in March 2019 speech, he indicated that he was no longer in favor of legalizing its use for medicinal purposes.
“That’s a plant, marijuana. They are cultivated. They’ll give you the excuse to harvest and say it’s medicinal. Everything will be medicinal, that would be an excuse. I did not agree to it. Not in my time. Some other President, maybe,” the President was quoted as saying.
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