A British MP and former cabinet minister has heavily criticised a child health organisation, saying it has been obstructive to the use of medicinal cannabis, such as CBD.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, a former UK Minister for Health told a hearing of the health and social care select committee that the British Paediatric Neurology Association was ‘lying and dismissive’ of the concerns of families seeking the use of CBD for treatment of family members.
Bradshaw, who served under both Blair and Brown Labour governments said the BPNA was both “arrogant and dismissive” and an obstacle to families of children in need of proven medication.
The association last year advised doctors not to prescribe medical cannabis products other than GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, although it wanted more research to be conducted.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate following an urgent question about medical cannabis, the former culture secretary said: “It is clear to me that the main barrier is the British Paediatric Neurology Association itself. When its president came to give evidence to the health and social care committee a couple of weeks ago, he was arrogant, he was dismissive of the families’ experience, and he misled our committee by denying that members of this house had sought a dialogue with him, which he had refused.”
Bradshaw then asked health secretary Matt Hancock: “What is the secretary of state going to do to remove the obstacle of the BPNA?”
Later in the debate, fellow Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on medical cannabis, said: “The BPNA has not spoken as it should have and it has not done enough to support the families” – to which Bradshaw interjected: “It lied.”
Antoniazzi then said that, while she would not have used that word: “I totally agree with my right honorable friend. I say to the secretary of state that this has got to stop. We cannot wait for clinical trials. There is medicine out there – get it to the children who need it.”
Hancock told the House: “We have to follow the clinical judgments made by the relevant organisations, whether a royal college or, as in this case, an association. What I have done is ensure that a second opinion is available, because the BPNA guidance is merely guidance; it is not absolute.” “A clinician on the specialist register can make a decision according to what they think is best for the patient in front of them.”
In reply to Antoniazzi, he said: “The BPNA is going to have to answer for itself about the way in which its representatives conducted themselves in front of the select committee. It is independent.”
The BPNA later responded, saying Bradshaw was “mistaken” in his remarks. A spokesperson for the association said: “The barrier to the use of medicinal cannabis containing THC in children’s epilepsy is the lack of evidence from any randomised controlled trials. The BPNA is keen to support such research into cannabis-based medicinal products to develop an evidence base.
“The BPNA is interested to explore whether drugs interacting with the endocannabinoid system are safe and effective in treating children with complex epilepsies. The BPNA has still not received any communication on this issue from any government minister.”
To conclude, a high-ranking UK Labour MP has accused the British Paediatric Neurology Association of being arrogant and dismissive of the concerns of families whose children could benefit from the use of CBD oil. The association say they are waiting for more research before consenting to more widespread use.