Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne approves medicinal cannabis for Tourette's case

Peter Dunne has received three applications for the prescription of cannabis-based products.
Peter Dunne has received three applications for the prescription of cannabis-based products.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has approved the use of a cannabis-based product to treat a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome.

Today's approval of Aceso Calm spray, a non-pharmaceutical grade product with a low THC content, followed an application from the patient's treating consultant.

While a review of the guidelines for approving such products is under way, the application met seven of the eight existing guideline criteria, providing a good level of information about the product, its efficacy and why it was being applied for.

"The application was comprehensive, innovative and considered. The director of mental health and the acting director of public health recommended its approval," Mr Dunne said.

"Although it has been suggested that the information requirements for applications are too stringent, an aspect I expect the current guidelines review will look into, the application I received today suggests that they are not an impediment to robust, clinician-led, assessment-based approaches."

While Sativex has previously been shown to be efficacious in treating the condition, the Aceso product has been chosen because of its reduced psychoactive side effects.

The application is the third received for prescribing cannabis-based non-pharmaceutical grade products, with one application subsequently withdrawn and the other two approved.

Information on the application process can be found on the Ministry of Health's website under medicinal cannabis.

Former Trade Union president Helen Kelly has criticised Mr Dunne's decision, saying she wants to know why he has approved this treatment and not Sativa or Indica, types of pain relief cannabis oil inhalers she and other cancer sufferers have applied to have approved without success.

"Peter Dunne says he didn't even look at my application and I want to know why.

"You think he could make an effort. I'm not asking for special treatment but you'd think given the publicity he would say 'can we look at her application'."

Aceso Calm spray was of no use to her or anyone else seeking pain relief through medical marijuana use, Ms Kelly said.

"I'm stuck here taking illegal cannabis. It's ok for me because I'm staunch but all these other people who want it lawfully."

Ms Kelly said Mr Dunne was "acting like bloody Father Christmas" in deciding which medical marijuana drugs would and wouldn't be approved.

"The system doesn't work and he's avoiding it but pretending he can do the work around.

"If he had a proper system [regarding the approval of] medical cannabis so that doctors could look after it he wouldn't have to be the expert," she said.

"He has not a clue that what he approved today is any better than what I've asked for."

- NZ Herald

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