TUESDAY, April 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There’s new data supporting the use of Epidiolex — the first cannabidiol (CBD) medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — to help curb a form of epilepsy.
The research found that the drug reduced seizures by nearly half in children with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of the neurological disorder.
The FDA approved Epidiolex last fall for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and another rare but severe form of childhood epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The new study was funded by GW Research Ltd., developer of Epidiolex.
Dravet syndrome typically begins in infancy and can lead to intellectual disability and frequent, prolonged seizures, noted a team of researchers led by Dr. Ian Miller, from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
“It’s exciting to be able to offer another alternative for children with this debilitating form of epilepsy and their families,” Miller said. He and his colleagues will present their findings next week at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, in Philadelphia.
“The children in this study had already tried an average of four epilepsy drugs with no success and at the time were taking an average of three additional drugs, so to have this measure of success with cannabidiol is a major victory,” Miller said in a meeting news release.
The study included 199 patients, average age 9, who were divided into three groups. One group received 20 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) dose per day of Epidiolex (in liquid form), while the second group received 10 mg/kg per day, and the third group received a placebo.
CBD products are derived from marijuana, but do not include THC, the active agent in pot that causes a “high.”
After 14 weeks of treatment, seizures with convulsions fell 46% in the high-dose group, 49% in the low-dose group, and 27% in the placebo group.
Total seizures fell 47% in the high-dose group, 56% in the low-dose group, and 30% in the placebo group.
Seizures were reduced by half or more in 49% of the high-dose group, 44% of the low-dose group, and 26% of the placebo group.