By NSW Premier Mike Baird @MikeBairdMP
The state is making great inroads into medical cannabis research and in an Australian first, children in NSW with severe drug-resistant epilepsy will be given compassionate access to a cannabis-based medicine.
The drug, Epidiolex, is a liquid formulation of a component of the cannabis plant that doesn’t have any psychoactive effect. This week, I met with clinicians who will be prescribing the drug at the Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick to 40 children whose epilepsy is so severe their bodies don’t respond to treatment.
I have spoken with some of the parents who hope the drug will give their children some much-needed relief. They have told me they don’t want to play pharmacist and want nothing but the best for their children. I was moved by their tears and can’t imagine what it would be like there to stand there, to look at your children suffering. Sometimes you can provide hope and that’s what we are hoping to achieve with this announcement.
We’re expanding the Compassionate Access Scheme to this group of children as part of an agreement that was signed between the NSW Government and GW Pharmaceuticals last October, and will mean Epidiolex will be available to the most vulnerable children suffering from severe drug-resistant epilepsy. Clinicians will contact eligible families in the coming weeks with further details and the children taking part will be given the cannabis-based medicine under medical supervision at all times.
The agreement signed with GW Pharmaceuticals last year paves the way for a broader new trial into cannabis-based medicines for children with drug-resistant childhood epilepsy.
This trial is one of three ambitious trials the NSW Government is undertaking to look into the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis for people living with a range of debilitating conditions. We recognise there is potential for cannabis-based medicines to ease pain and suffering and we are doing everything we can to provide relief to those in need.
In other good news this week, a new agreement between the NSW Government and the biggest bank in Japan is expected to lead to greater investment between our state and Japan.
I met with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi CEO for Asia and Oceania, Mr Takayoshi Futae, this week to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow us to tap into the bank’s vast network of clients in Japan to promote business and investment opportunities in NSW.
I’m very pleased this MOU has been negotiated. The bank is part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group – Japan’s largest financial group – and I met with the then-CEO and now President of that organisation during my official trade mission to Tokyo last April.
The strength of the NSW economy, our Sister State relationship with Tokyo that dates back to 1984, and Australia’s new free trade agreement with Japan create ideal conditions for doing business in NSW. This agreement strengthens the state’s business links with Japan and opens up greater opportunities for both our countries to work together.