“Will it be the type that keeps me alive?” Cancer patient awaits definition of medicinal cannabis

Caroline Burns, with her family. Caroline has been taking Cannabis oil, to help treat her barin tumour but worries legal type might not be the right one for her. (Andrew Cawley)

A brain cancer patient who says she is being kept alive by medicinal cannabis has welcomed a Government decision to make it legal.

But Caroline Burns is waiting to find out if NHS prescriptions will replicate the formula saving her.

The mum from Cumbernauld takes illegally imported medicinal cannabis to treat her highly aggressive glio brain tumour.

She is thriving three years after being given just three months to live after mainstream cancer treatment failed to reduce her tumour.

Since taking cannabis imported from Canada, her tumour has shrunk 26% and is the best performing glio patient in trials under way at Glasgow’s Beatson’s cancer hospital.

But it costs her family between £1,000 and £1,500 a month to buy.

Caroline, 35, said: “We are all hugely encouraged by Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s promise to make it available in the UK.

“But I need to find out if the official Government bodies will allow the NHS to prescribe an equivalent of the cannabis I get from Canada.

“I firmly believe I would not be alive today without it.

“At this stage, however, no one is certain what constitutes a medicinal cannabis product. I am hoping the government’s promise to issue medicinal cannabis will include one to keep me alive.”

Mr Javid has asked the Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency to develop a clear definition of what constitutes medicinal cannabis.

Caroline’s next move is to appeal to the European Medicine Agency to allow her cannabis under its “orphan” use for serious, rare illnesses with no alternative treatments.

It can sanction medicines which have shown promise, though not necessarily through huge drug trials.

Caroline’s family have approached their MSP, Jamie Hepburn, who is lobbying Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

MP Stuart McDonald is being asked to present their case to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Caroline’s husband, Gary, said: “We will do whatever is possible to keep Caroline alive. She is thriving under cannabis oil and is the fittest and happiest we have seen her for a long time.”

The Home Office said officials were working on “a clear definition of what constitutes a cannabis-derived medicinal product.”