A Cork mother has appealed to Minister for Health Simon Harris to cover the cost of her daughter's medicinal cannabis medication under the Long Term Illness Scheme.

Vera Twomey, whose eight-year-old daughter Ava has Dravet's Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, says the family cannot continue to pay up to €5000 every three months for the medication.

Ms Twomey was granted a license to import the medications CBD & THC from the Netherlands last December following a long campaign.

She has said both the HSE and the Department of Health have told her that they are unable to cover the cost of the medicinal cannabis as it would have to be imported under license from the Netherlands which is not possible.

Speaking in Cork today, Ms Twomey said that since 2010, all of Ava's epilepsy medication has been covered under the Long Term Illness Scheme and she does not understand why this medication cannot be too.

She has called on Minister Harris to implement "his own policy which is to cover medication for epilepsy patients under the scheme and to reimburse Ava's medication"."We need it covered, if we are not going to be able to afford Ava's medication the lights are going to go out, that's what is going to happen," she said. 


Ava Twomey

She added: "There is no alternative. There is nothing left for Ava. This works for her".

Her call was supported by TDs Mick Barry, Gino Kenny and Jonathan O'Brien. 

Mr O'Brien said the simple solution is to change the guidelines to include the medication prescribed by a Dutch neurologist.

He said his understanding is that seven licenses to import medicinal cannabis have been issued, so the changes would affect a very small group of people.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Minister Harris said his Department and the HSE are considering access and funding proposals for cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

He said the legal issues involved in developing a reimbursement process for these products are being examined, and his officials are working to resolve this matter.