Published On: Tue, Dec 4th, 2018

Medicinal cannabis is used successfully in Mexico to control extreme epilepsy conditions

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While Mexico is just about to legalize cannabis or marijuana, a psychotropic to which the escalation of violence in the country has been attributed, for Francisco Peña Herrera and Lizbeth Pech Estrella, parents of María Alondra, the legalization of the medicinal use of that plant has been a struggle and a long wait.

Her daughter suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a variant of difficult-to-manage infantile epilepsy that appears between two and six years of age, characterized by frequent and diverse seizures; it is often accompanied by intellectual disability and behavioral problems, and one of the drugs that controls it is cannabinoid.

Over the years, the couple has seen how this substance has been approved in Uruguay, some parts of the United States and then in Canada. And in Mexico, a group of activists encourages government and society through social networks to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis, that could change the life of  certain patients, like Maria Alondra.

The Peña Pech family is one of the first in the country to have obtained authorization for the importation of a drug based on marijuana and they say that legalizing it is a very important measure in the sense that it would lower the price of the product that they are currently purchasing at an extremely high cost.

For now, they have to import the treatment from the United States and it costs them around $ 6,500 pesos every two weeks. “If we import it from the United States, it costs us around 15,000 pesos, but since we are part of a foundation we have this benefit,” said Peña Herrera.

The added that with legalization, costs would be reduced by around 15% of the current price, which is basically the importation tax. And in a second stage, there would be greater savings, because the raw material would not have to be imported, but it would be produced in Mexico.

The couple also say that the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) has taken too long to regulate this medicinal product, since its use was authorized in Mexico over one year ago.

38 out of 43 products, have been already authorized as they contain less than 1% of Tetrahydrocannabinol, which makes these products not psychotropic. But although the issue of legalization represents a very important aid in terms of cost, the part of the self-cultivation is still pending.

“This is really important because by legalizing self-cultivation, the cost of the treatment would be significantly reduced,” Mr. Peña Herrera said.

In fact, Olga Sánchez Cordero, the new Secretary of the Interior, already said that in the medium and long term it is expected that there will be legal self-cultivation in Mexico.

The father of María Alondra explained that the girl’s condition is an epilepsy that is difficult to control, she has to take five different medications and none of these have managed to reduce the number of seizures. However, with medicinal cannabis they have noticed a reduction between 80 and 90%.

“We have seen a significant reduction in the number of seizures, as well as the intensity and frequency with which they occur; our daughter used to experiment around 100 siezures a day, and since we started the treatment with cannabinoids, the number of seizures went down to 10 or 15 a day, ” he said.

“We have noticed a huge change, our daughter is more alert now, she is already using the tablet, she is much more awake, she does not spit anymore.  Now, she is able to raise her head and act normally for longer periods of time, ” added the mother.

María Alondra went through two brain surgeries called callosotomy. After the first operation crisis subsided, but a year later they had to operate again because there was no significant reduction. After the second surgery, seizures decreased significantly.

“But even so, the crises continued and that was when I started researching and found out about a girl named Grace, I learned that her parents were the pioneers in the topic of medical cannabis in Mexico. They got the authorization through an injunction before the Supreme Court of Justice, and as a result of that case, more and more people started to talk about medical cannabis use in Mexico. ” María Alondra’s faher explained.

“I got in touch with the doctor who attends Grace in Mexico City. He became my daughter’s doctor and every six months we have to go to consultation with him for follow-up,” he continued.

For two and a half years María Alondra has been under this type of treatment. And according to the couple, there are currently 5 or 6 people in Mérida who have this condition and who are using medical cannabis and doing well.

“María Alondra is a healthy girl in general, she had two surgeries and no longer is a candidate for another because they have practically removed all the cerebral callus, the nervous callus, so the doctors said that there is no need of another surgery for her. In any case there is a treatment called a “vagal stimulator”, but it is really expensive, around 30,000 dollars; that is, equivalent to 600,000 pesos. So, our best alternative is to continue with the use of cannabis, we would like to self-cultivate the plant and prepare the neuroprotective oil ourselves,” Mr. Peña Herrera concluded.

SMT Newsroom with information from yucatan.com.mx



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