Family granted approval to import cannabis to help save son
A LOGAN mother who refused to give up has secured medical cannabis treatment for her son.
Lanai Carter said she wept with joy at the news that her formal application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for her son Lindsay to receive his medical cannabis treatment through the Special Access Scheme had been granted.
Lindsay Carter is 17 years old and has been fighting brain cancer for the past two and a half years.
His mother Lanai has been campaigning for medicinal cannabis after witnessing its success in shrinking Lindsay's brain tumour and controlling the seizures he suffered as a side effect of the tumour.
After Lindsay was diagnosed, the family was advised that due to the tumour's position within his brain, surgery would be risky and potentially affect his speech.
Ms Carter said she and her son made the decision to go to the US for treatment. She and Lindsay initially travelled to Texas, but the treatment had no effect.
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From there, they headed to Washington where medical cannabis was recommended to reduce the brain tumour, manage his pain and nausea and mitigate the seizures.
"Once he started on that treatment, his tumour shrank by almost half the size within seven weeks," Ms Carter said. But once back in Australia and off the cannabis treatment his tumour started to grow again.
Mother and son did a further four trips back to the US for treatment and each time made significant progress with the tumour and seizures.
Yet every time they returned to Australia, where cannabis is a Schedule 9 prohibited substance listed in the Poisons Standard (the most restrictive classification), the tumour grew and the seizures returned.
As the trips to the US for treatment had exhausted their superannuation, in March this year Ms Carter, who is also the co-chair of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Group Queensland, applied for a medical exemption from the Attorney General for Lindsay to be granted access to receive and continue his treatment in Australia.
After seven months of waiting for an answer, the family was finally given the break it desperately needed.
Through the Special Access Scheme, Lindsay will be able to import the medicinal cannabis that has proven so successful in his case. The approximate retail cost of the treatment is US $7200 for every three months and is not an affordable long-term option for the already financially burdened family.
"It is only a short-term, interim measure until a local regulated supply becomes available here," Ms Carter said.
"For now we're so grateful to have had the Special Access Scheme process finalised by the TGA after a long seven-month wait and hope it won't be too long before Lindsay's treatment arrives," she said.
There are still a few steps to get through.
The import permit needs to be issued to the pharmacist and this is subject to the Queensland Attorney General also granting Ms Carter an exemption from state prosecution for the THC component of the medicine and right to administer the medical cannabis to Lindsay as a caregiver.
Ms Carter said she hoped their success would make it easier for other patients who needed urgent access to a quality controlled legal supply.
"As co-chair of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Group Queensland, I will continue lobbying the government for interim measures such as funding for imported oils for families who cannot afford the overseas supplies, as well as an amnesty and access to testing facilities," she said.