Patient forced to halve dosage due to huge costs #RyansRight
Another patient let down by the Medical Cannabis Access Program (MCAP). Ryan Fowler, 22 years old from Co. Wicklow.
Ryan suffers from a rare form of sarcoma on his shoulder. Sarcoma is type of cancer that begins in bone or in the soft tissues of the body, including cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, fibrous tissue, or other connective or supportive tissue - which causes Ryan to have chronic pain issues.
Ryan spoke his specialist doctor, and they put in an application for a medical cannabis licence. After getting a licence and being prescribed medical cannabis in 2019 Ryan, found great relief and was able to return to work, giving him his life and his independency back. However, as chronic pain was not listed as one of the conditions under MCAP, he would have to pay €1080 per month upfront to cover the costs of his prescription.
Medical Cannabis in Ireland is one of the rarities where a prescription and a licence will be issued for many ailments where the prescribing doctor sees fit, and not be covered on any government reimbursement scheme, if your condition is not one of the three conditions set out in MCAP - Nausea from Chemotherapy, Epilepsy, and MS.
A source has revealed that about 75% of patients who hold licences and prescriptions are NOT being reimbursed, and have to incur these huge costs on an ongoing basis. This leaves most families in a vulnerable position where they have to choose household bills over healthcare.
Any other public prescriptions, are paid for in part of full by the state under schemes such as Long Term Illness. Medical Cannabis is the only one where patients have to fundraise and borrow to cover their prescription, just to have a quality of life. Why are these patients being discriminated against?
After paying out of pocket since 2019, Ryan is no longer in a position to pay the full €1080 a month for his prescription, and is now forced to halve his dosage, leaving him vulnerable to needless pain and suffering.
Ryan's mother - Pamela, has been his number 1 supporter since day one and has been campaigning for a change to these parameters by speaking at events and planting a cannabis plant in her home town last August, with the support of a local Senator. Pamela has seen a complete change in Ryan's quality of life and is worried that her son will have to emigrate to continue with medical cannabis like many other Irish patients before him. "We have been left with no other choice but to use every social media outlet to inform people what the heath system is doing to our sick."
Kenny Tynan of Patients For Safe Access says "MCAP is not fit for purpose, it is based on a flawed and outdated report from the HPRA. Many patients that use cannabis who do not qualify for reimbursement are not benefitting from scheme, are still relying on black market untested cannabis to alleviate their pain - this should not be the case when we have the ways to provide a quality dosage controlled cannabis medicine to those in dire need. We are patients, not criminals."