THE FATHER of a young girl who is living with cancer and epilepsy has made an impassioned plea for access to a cannabis-based medication.
14-year-old Lauren McGrath is currently being treated for cancer for the third time in her young life, and recently had to have a leg amputated due to complications from the disease.
Her fight against cancer is complicated further by seizures caused by epilepsy– something which can be treated with a cannabis-based drug, but which the family have been refused access to “time and time again”.
Lauren’s father, Niall McGrath, spoke to local radio show Tipp Today where he said Lauren has been refused access to Epidiolex, despite it being available in Ireland and having a prescription from a consultant in Blackrock Clinic.
“It’s not listed with the HSE,” he told the station, “and the cost of the medication is about €1,200 a month.”
“We’ve been turned down time and time again.”
Despite fighting cancer, Lauren, who lives with her family in Limerick, is an amazing and strong person, her father continued.
“She’s a really bubbly person and really good-humoured and has loads of friends,” he said, adding that they have all remained friends despite Lauren’s setbacks.
“She still struggles with the basics in school, and with reading and writing, she’s way, way, way behind.
“But she’s a lovely kid and anybody who meets her just takes to her straight away.
“I was the one who told her she was going to have to lose her leg and I was dreading it,” Mr McGrath admitted.
“It took my three days to build up the confidence, but she just looked at me and said ‘No problem, I can do it Dad.’
“It just melts your heart.”
The cannabis-based drug Epidiolex has been proven to help reduce epileptic seizures, and is the first and only FDA-approved prescription CBD drug.
In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, for patients over the age of one.