An experimental marijuana extract that was administered to a number of children with epilepsy in University of Utah’s medical marijuana study has been proven effective as more than half of them reported having fewer seizures. The drug being tested in this study is Epidiolex, a purified form of one of the cannabinoids that goes by the name of CBD (cannabidiol). This marijuana compound is one of the 85 active cannabinoids and accounts for almost 40% of the plants’ extract. It is also considered to have more medicinal benefits than its counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive compound of the plant, the one that makes people feel high.
Epidiolex From GW Pharmaceuticals
The company in charge of production of Epidiolex is London based GW Pharmaceuticals. The University of Utah is one of the 11 sites that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as well as by the Drug Enforcement Administration to test Epidiolex. Surprisingly, the Utah lawmakers didn’t just give the go-ahead for the trial that would eventually be beneficial for all those families that are waiting for the results, but have also created a registry for those families of approximately 1,500 children affected with intractable epilepsy. By using this benefit, families of sick children may legally import cannabis extracts. As of June, the Department of Health has issued 84 cards for qualifying children, however, this opportunity is exclusively for children with intractable epilepsy, meaning patients suffering from other ailments will not be accepted.
Will The FDA Approve It?
So far the results of the study have been encouraging, however, whether or not the Food and Drug Administration would approve Epidiolex is difficult to tell. Out of 25 children involved in the study, more than half of them had their seizures reduced while taking Epidiolex. However, some children had side effects such as diarrhea and sleeping problems, while one child had liver failure and one other child did not have a single seizure during the treatment with Epidiolex that lasted for about 12 weeks.
Huge Study Delivers on Results
The University of Utah has spent about $100,000 so far, and would love to expand the study and include more children. To do that, they’ll need more money. They have also started a double-blind study that would look into the effects of Epidiolex in three children with Dravet Syndrome and have plans to start another, also double-blind study, that would look into the effects of the drug in eight kids with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Both of these are rare and catastrophic forms of epilepsy that begin in early childhood. A double-blind study means that neither the doctor nor the patients know which pill is the one being tested and which is a placebo.
CBD has been in the spotlight ever since a story about Charlotte Figi broke out. This little girl from Colorado experienced a significant reduction of her epileptic seizures brought on by Dravet syndrome after first dose of medical marijuana. There is also a cannabis strain called Charlotte’s web that is named after this girl (and a novel with the same name).