Last month, an advisory panel to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously to recommend the approval of Epidiolex, an epilepsy medication with cannabidiol as the active ingredient.
If the recommendation is accepted – as it most likely will be – Epidiolex will be the first cannabis-based medication to be available (in a regular pharmacy) with a physician’s prescription. It was created by UK company GW Pharmaceuticals, and has been available in Israeli hospitals and pharmacies for years now.
The drug is used to treat two the most rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy – Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome – both of which typically appear before 5 years of age. In the United States alone, there are nearly 300,000 people, (mostly children) living either of these conditions.
Due to the intensity and frequency of seizure related to these specific disorders, patients have an elevated risk of developmental delays, intellectual and/or physical disabilities, and even death. Finding a safe and effective long term solution for these children is of utmost importance. At the moment, there is no standardized treatment available, but hopefully Epidiolex will change that.
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“This is a very good development, and it basically underscores that there are medicinal properties to some of the cannabinoids,” said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California San Diego. “I think there could well be other cannabinoids that are of therapeutic use, but there is just not enough research on them to say.”
This isn’t the first “cannabis-derived” prescription medication available on the market, but it is the only one that uses the original, plant-based extract. There are already synthetic CBD treatments available to provide relief to cancer and HIV/AIDS patients suffering with nausea and weight loss.
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