Billy Caldwell, a United Kingdom-based teenager with epilepsy, is set to become the first patient to be prescribed cannabis by the National Health Service (NHS).
The push for this legislation came from Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, who has been fighting for legal cannabis for Billy since the beginning of his battle with epilepsy. “It means everything to Billy. This is the medicine that has kept him alive for the last four years,” she says. “Billy has had access to medicinal cannabis via private prescription before and is controlling his life-threatening seizures.” Now, Billy will receive his first batch of legal medical cannabis on November 1.
Dr. Mikael Sodergren, Managing Director and Academic Leaf of the Sapphire Medical Clinic (a UK medical cannabis provider) shared with the BBC that this situation is “significant” and will contribute to many more happy patients in years to come. “Primarily, there is this young man who benefits from this medicine, and in some ways, it can be described as life-saving,” said Sodergren. “On a wider note, this is the first time that the mechanism that’s been set up by the NHS to evaluate these cases that don’t fall within the NICE guidance—in this case for severe refractory childhood epilepsy. Maybe over the next few months and years that will be opened up for other conditions where these medicines have got really life-changing consequences.”
One of the first times that Billy was featured in the news was in a report that covered the hundreds of seizures he usually experiences every day. Charlotte took Billy to the US seeking specialty treatment and the possibility of operation, which could permanently affect his speech and memory. Later in 2018, his name was in headlines once again when his cannabis oil was seized at Heathrow Airport in London.