In December 2016, NHS England announced it will now fund routinely fund sodium oxybate for children living with narcolepsy (a sleep disorder) and cataplexy (temporary involuntary muscle weakness). This was as a result of a High Court judgment in June, where an NHS England decision not to fund sodium oxybate for a child not responding to the typical treatment was overturned.
Until December, sodium oxybate was only available on the NHS for adults, and doctors wanting to prescribe it to children were required to make an Individual Funding Request (IFR) to NHS England. Here, an IFR for sodium oxybate for a child was refused on the grounds that her situation was not exceptional enough. In June Mr Justice Collins overturned this, stating that while he was sympathetic that NHS England had finite resources and would need to make difficult decisions, NHS England's test for funding IFRs was so restrictive as to undermine the point of the IFR system, that patients could ask for individual decisions to be made based on their circumstances. IFRs were designed for exceptional circumstances, but the test used by NHS England was such that a patient had to be essentially unique before funding would be granted.