A multiple sclerosis patient is prepared to go to the European Court of Human Rights to demand free cannabis on the NHS. Brighton woman Pauline Johnson has had MS for 20 years but said her mobility has deteriorated so much in the past year after coming off the drug that she is in a wheelchair.

Ms Johnson, 64, took part in cannabis-based treatment trials from 2003 to 2006 but she said she was left "high and dry" when she asked if her GP would still fund the treatment. She said the drug called Sativex, which was in a spray form, helped with the muscle stiffness and to relax her.

Since the trials ended, Ms Johnson, of Hampshire Court, Upper St James's Street, Brighton, claimed she has been prescribed a muscle relaxant that does not help her. Now she has been accepted for a 12-week study being carried out by the Royal Sussex County Hospital neurology department in Brighton for potential treatment for patients with MS symptoms.

Ms Johnson said: "We are guinea pigs but it is a serious illness and you have to have a positive attitude towards it. When I did the last trial I heard about it from my MS meetings and said I'd like to try it, but had to wait six years until they would take me. The spray helped to relax me and gave me a good night's sleep. I was struggling before that but it really helped. I asked the doctor if they'd continue funding me but nobody got back to me and I had to go on my normal drugs."

During the Multiple Sclerosis and Extract of Cannabis clinical study, researchers will find out if a drug with extract of cannabis plants helps relieve the pain and muscle stiffness. Patients will attend six regular clinic visits over three months and receive the active treatment or a placebo.

Ms Johnson said: "I really don't want to do this then deteriorate again. You will try anything to help yourself. I want people to be aware we want this drug. If it works for us why can't they continue it after the trial? Some people do not have the strength to fight but I do - and I'd go to the European Court of Human Rights to do it."

A Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals spokeswoman said: "Given that the study involves a controlled drug, no medication can be given once the trial has finished, as dictated by the drug agencies nationally."

Source: The Argus Lite
Copyright: 2008, The Argus Lite
Contact: Ruth Lumley
Website: Brighton Ms Patient Will Fight For Cannabis (from Argus Lite)