Buenos Aires National Children’s Garrahan Hospital just provided the first supply of medical cannabis in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
Argentinian health authorities are now providing access to cannabis derivatives for medicinal, therapeutic and palliative purposes. The first supply of medical cannabis for pediatric patients with epilepsy at the Buenos Aires National Children’s Garrahan Hospital was finally delivered. The delivery was a long-awaited result of Law 27,350. The law was passed in 2017, but it wasn’t regulated until November of last year.
The hospital’s young patients will now receive treatment from pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oil, purified and highly concentrated. It’s for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, which is when an individual can’t remain seizure-free after two trials of antiseizure medications.
The medical marijuana will also treat patients with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS) and epilepsy related to Tuberous Sclerosis. LGS and DS are frequently resistant to treatment and cause cognitive and behavioural changes.
In over 80 percent of cases, cannabis has been proven to improve patients’ quality of life. The drug also reduces the number of seizures by a reported 60 percent.
Bottles of cannabis oral solution were delivered to Buenos Aires National Children’s Garrahan Hospital in Argentina. It is, according to Sandra Tirado, who’s the Secretary of Access to Health, “the first time a derivative of nationally produced cannabis” is available for patients. The first shipment of the solution will treat 14 kids.
Medicinal Cannabis Program Coordinator Marcelo Morante stated, “The quality of a standardized product in a pathology that really conditions the quality of life of our families, accompanied by a doctor or by a hospital of reference in refractory epilepsy, is the path that will lead us to the improvement of this disabling pathology.”
Not only will the medicinal cannabis provide comfort to patients suffering from frequent, sometimes daily and severe seizures, but also their families. According to Hospital Garrahan Chief Neurologist Roberto Caravallo, the hospital’s new treatment produces ”a better quality of life for the child and their family.” Previously, cannabis oil was only available to participants in research protocols in refractory epilepsy.
Buenos Aires Sets the Stage for Argentina
Last November, the Argentine Government issued Decree 883/2020. It modified Law No. 27,350 on “Medical and Scientific Research for the Medicinal Use of the Cannabis Plant and its derivatives,” which according to advocates and critics, lacked inclusivity. The decree provides safe and inclusive access to medicinal cannabis to patients.
Since the issuing of Decree 883/2020, the National Government has introduced a new bill, “Regulatory Framework for the Development of the Medical Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Industry.” The regulation’s goal is to provide a framework for public and private investment in production, commercialization and exports.
It also covers scientific research and potential industrial use, like food, hygiene products, and more. The regulation would complement Law No. 27,350, which, for now, is focused on cannabis for therapeutic use, such as its recent usage at the Buenos Aires National Children’s Garrahan Hospital.
At the end of 2020, Argentina’s citizens with a license can grow medicinal marijuana from home. Growing without a license, however, could result in four to 16 years of jail time.
More steps forward have been made, as well. President Alberto Fernández even permitted pharmacies to sell cannabis-derived oils and other products. And while medicinal cannabis was once a costly import for patients, now public and private insurance companies must cover the cost for patients’ prescriptions.
It was a hard fight won by advocates in Argentina. “We’ve been fighting for this for three years,” said Valeria Salech, who’s the head of Mamá Cultiva, which is an Argentine organization that promotes medical marijuana. “We’re no longer going to be criminalized for seeking a better quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.”