New Epilepsy Medication Made from Marijuana Finds Success

The Mercury News originally reported that a new cannabis based drug found success with reducing epileptic episodes in patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. They hope to have the drug available on the market later in 2018 as it pends approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome have not found a treatment to date that could manage their seizures. Other drugs had failed results that led to “drop” seizures, in which the patient experiences a seizure paired with a fall, often causing injury to the body (trunk or even head). Nothing seemed to show much hope of effective treatment until GW Pharmaceuticals introduced Epidiolex.

GW Pharmaceuticals announced it’s study’s results earlier this month. One hundred seventy-one Lennox-Gastaut patients, all a variety of ages, were studied and randomly given either the treatment or a placebo. It was a 14-week treatment and while the results weren’t overly significant, 44% of patients who took the drug saw a massive decrease in seizures compared to 22% of the group that took the placebo. Seizures rates dropped at least 50% for those that took the drug.

The director of pediatric epilepsy at the Massachusetts General Hospital Elizabeth Thiele led the study and shared that while the results weren’t beneficial to everyone who took the drug, it was still life-changing to the ones it did impact. She spoke about one child specifically who tried many rounds of different drugs without any success, yet GW’s treatment was a complete change. She now hasn’t had a seizure in four years and is looking into what colleges she would be interested in attending; something she didn’t think was an option before.

The drug is rooted on pure cannabidiol, which is an oil developed form marijuana plants. The idea didn’t spark until a mother in Colorado found success with marijuana and her daughter’s seizures. What do you think of leveraging the controversial plant for medicinal use? Tell us here.

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