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Newstalk ZB: Pharmac turns down funding cover for Sativex

Sushila Butt has petitioned Parliament over treatment for her 21 year old daughter and her ability to access the cannabinoid medication known as Sativex (Getty Images)

Pharmac is being left to make the final call on how a young woman suffering life threatening seizures can access medication.

Sushila Butt has petitioned Parliament over treatment for her 21 year old daughter and her ability to access the cannabinoid medication known as Sativex.

The Butt family can’t afford the medication and has applied to Pharmac for funding to cover its cost – a move supported by the Northland District health Board.

However Pharmac’s turned the bid down, saying the level of benefit from Sativex is uncertain and other funded medicines are available.

Parliament’s Health Select Committee has declined to intervene, saying it considers that Pharmac is best placed to determine issues about which drugs to fund.

Meanwhile a petition in support of unionist and cancer patient. Helen Kelly, has been knocked back by a Parliamentary committee.

Over 4000 people signed an online petition calling for Ms Kelly to be allowed to use cannabis oil to help control the pain and nausea her disease is causing her.

However Parliament’s Health Select Committee said the Government doesn’t support the use of unprocessed cannabis for medicinal purposes because the dose and potency can’t be controlled, and also because of the risk of contaminants.

The Committee said there’s no Government opposition to the use of cannabis-based medicines – but Sativex is the only product approved for use here.

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