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Medicinal marijuana: 40 sickest children to get treatment ahead of trials, NSW Premier says.

By state political reporter Ashleigh Raper

New South Wales children with the worst cases of drug-resistant epilepsy will be the first children in Australia given access to medicinal cannabis.

The NSW Government has announced it has secured a cannabis-based medicine from the United Kingdom for 40 child patients.

The oral drug known as Epidiolex has already been trialled overseas.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said children in the state with the most severe cases of the condition would now have access to the drug.

“I have spoken to some of those parents, I’ve been moved by their tears,” he said.

“I just can’t imagine what it would be like to stand there, to be there, to look at your children suffering and continuing to suffer.

“Sometimes you can provide hope and today is one of those days.”

The 40 children will be eligible for the drug under a compassionate access scheme.

The scheme will be administered outside of separate trials for medicinal cannabis that start in New South Wales later this year.

Dr John Lawson from the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick said it was unfortunate the drug was initially being limited to a small number of children.

But he was optimistic the upcoming medicinal cannabis trials would increase the number of patients given access to the treatment.

“Hopefully we will have hundreds involved in the next 12 months [in the trials],” he said.

Dr Lawson said the children who were given the drug would be monitored over a period of 12 weeks.

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“This is not a miracle for everyone,” he said.

“Maybe one in 10 will have a very good response and maybe one in three will have a good response.

“But this is in a group where there has been no hope.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News

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