businessman has told of how his mother’s battle with chronic pain has inspired him to improve medical cannabis prescribing in the UK.
Usha Rajyagor, 63, from East London, has suffered from chronic pain following a car accident 16 years ago.
She was diagnosed with disc generative disorder and has undergone 17 operations on her spine.
Since surgery, she has effectively been bedridden, relying on a wheelchair whenever she leaves the house. Her son Arjun, along with her husband daughter, became her full-time carers.
Ms Rajyagor managed the pain using a series of strong medications, including oxycontin and tramadol. However, she recently began to seek other treatments after being warned by a consultant that she was on too many opiates.
Medical cannabis has since helped Ms Rajyagor to manage her symptoms.
She said: “I’m finding I’m sleeping better and I just generally feel better in myself. My opiate prescription is coming down, so it is going the right way. Yes, I had my reservations, but seeing the information and data that Arjun had researched really helped.”
Ms Rajyagor and her family found the process of obtaining a prescription difficult.
Many Britons suffering from chronic pain have already opted to obtain cannabis privately after struggling to get a prescription through the NHS. Only 32,000 people are currently being treated with medicinal cannabis in the UK, though many more are eligible for treatment.
There are just three conditions accepted by the NHS for cannabis prescriptions: muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, nausea caused by cancer-related treatment and severe epilepsy.
Arjun, a winner of the BBC Junior Apprentice in 2010, said: “We’ve seen lots of new doctors over the years and it’s an arduous and emotional process.
“Mum has to take them through a 15 year journey every time. It’s a process I didn’t want her to have to keep going through. It’s enough pain to have to live it, it’s more pain to have to relive it. I wanted her care to continue with her current doctors but also for her to have access to new medicine.”
Arjun subsequently teamed up with Dr Ilan Lieberman, a specialist in pain management, to design a new platform which will provide clinicians with the tools to prescribe cannabis independently from their existing clinic.
He hopes the platform, named Script Assist, will increase prescriptions by supporting both clinicians and patients through the process.
“My hope is that we can improve confidence amongst clinicians and unlock access for patients who could benefit from this medicine”, he explained.
“Script Assist is supporting clinicians to prescribe independently from their current clinical settings and it’s a significant step forward that will have a positive impact on patients just like Mum.”
The technology is already being used in private hospitals and marks the first time that medical cannabis has been prescribed as part of a standard pain management programme, rather than a dedicated clinic.
Ms Rajyagor added: “I’m incredibly, incredibly proud of Arjun and how far he has gone with this in order to make a difference to patient’s lives.”
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