According to a story from BioPortfolio, the biopharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals plc recently announced that its medicine Epidyolex has earned recommendation from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for routine coverage on the NHS as a treatment for two rare syndromes that cause epilepsy in childhood: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. GW is focused on the development of cannabinoid-based medicines.
About Dravet Syndrome
Dravet syndrome is a form of severe epilepsy that usually begins by the sixth month of life. The disease is most characterized by frequent seizures that are sometimes triggered by fever or hot temperatures. The predominant symptom of Dravet syndrome is seizures; varying types of seizures often occur as the disorder progresses, as well as ataxia, developmental delays, behavioral disorders that may resemble autism, and cognitive impairment. Seizures can be potentially lethal. To learn more about Dravet syndrome, click here.
About Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome manifests in a similar manner to Dravet and typically begins to show effects between the ages of three to five years. In this syndrome, tonic seizures are the most common and can occur on a daily basis. Other symptoms include slow spike waves on an EEG, vision changes, and cognitive issues. These seizures rarely respond to typical anti-seizure drugs. To learn more about Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, click here.
Access to a New Treatment
Epidyolex is an oral solution of cannabidiol (CBD), a substance that is found naturally in the cannabis plant. The recommendation marks the first time that NICE has recommended and plant-based, cannabis medication for NHS coverage. The medication is recommended for patients that are at least two years old and should be taken in combination with clobazam.
The drug has previously been approved in both the US and the EU. Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are among the most challenging of epilepsy disorders to treat. Therefore, the recommendation from NICE is welcome news for patient families in the UK that are dealing with these distressing disorders, as there is a dire need for more effective therapies.
NICE also gave a positive recommendation for nabiximols (marketed as Sativex), which is currently approved in 25 countries as a treatment for spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.