In Brief

Alfie Dingley: epileptic boy may be allowed cannabis oil treatment

Home Office reviewing case of six-year-old who has up to 30 seizures a day

The Home Office says it is considering allowing a medical cannabis trial to treat a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy.

Alfie Dingley, from Warwickshire, suffers up to 30 seizures a day. His mother, Hannah Deacon, took him to the Netherlands this September to undergo treatment with a cannabis-based oil. This medication is said to have reduced the duration and severity of his seizures, and to have cut their frequency to “once every 27 days rather than every seven to ten days”, says Sky News.

UK officials have so far denied Alfie access to the drug, explaining that it “cannot be practically prescribed, administered or supplied to the public” since it is a banned substance in the UK. He is currently being treated with powerful steroids, which his family say are less effective and leave him at risk of long-term organ damage.

However, after meeting with Alfie’s family, ministers say they are “exploring every option”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government has a huge amount of sympathy for the rare and difficult situation that Alfie and his family are faced with.

“No decisions have been made and any proposal would need to be led by senior clinicians using sufficient and rigorous evidence.”

Possession of cannabis is currently punishable with up to five years in prison, and it “is not recognised in the UK as having any medicinal benefit”, reports the BBC. The Home Office says the drug “can only be used for research under a licence”. 

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