Associate Minister of Health Hon Peter Dunne has today approved on compassionate grounds the one-off use of Elixinol, a cannabidiol (CBD) product from the United States to be administered by clinicians treating Wellington patient Alex Renton.
The Minister said that “despite the absence of clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of CBD in patients with Mr Renton’s condition status epilepticus, my decision relies on the dire circumstances and extreme severity of Mr Renton’s individual case”.
“I have considerable sympathy for the family of Mr Renton who face an incredibly difficult situation. Understandably they want to do the best for their son, and they believe that this option is worth trying.
“I have also considered the absence of any other treatment options, the low risk of significant adverse effects, and the conclusion reached by the hospital ethics committee from an individual patient perspective.
“Ministerial approval in this case does not extend beyond Mr Renton’s application and should in no way be construed as setting a wider precedent,” he said.
Mr Dunne said the advice he has received was that there remains a lack of clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD products in sufferers of Mr Renton’s condition.
“The fact that Elixinol does not have a supporting pharmaceutical testing regime means this application has been reviewed as a stand-alone case and weighed against the severity of his condition.
“My officials will be closely following the outcome of studies overseas, including those due to commence next year in Australia, on the efficacy of different products. Those results will help to inform future legislative and regulatory considerations here in New Zealand.
“I am satisfied with the way the DHB and the Ministry have handled this matter. After exhausting all recommended and standard treatment options, CCDHB made a clinical decision last week to complete the necessary documentation to apply for approval to use a non-standard medicinal cannabidiol treatment for Mr Renton. That application was lodged with the Ministry yesterday afternoon. Ministry officials considered the application as a matter of priority and briefed me this morning.
“I hope for a positive outcome for Mr Renton and his family,” Mr Dunne said.