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Cannabis-Based Drug Epidiolex Reduces Epileptic Seizures, Report Says

By Alexandra Gratereaux
Posted On Mar 16, 2016
Cannabis-Based Drug Epidiolex Reduces Epileptic Seizures, Report Says

A new drug stemming from cannabis has allegedly triumphed in significantly lowering the number of epileptic seizures in patients after its first major trial.

Developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex is said to reduce convulsive seizures in patients who suffer from a unique type of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, The New York Times is reporting.

Epidiolex may become the first prescribed drug in the United States extracted from Cannabis. It contains cannabidiol—a substance found in weed that does not get people high. Since many researchers suggested that this drug be compared to a placebo, a new study on Epidiolex has been launched by GW and is being thoroughly monitored.

“I’m very proud and happy about this study because it is science — [and] we did things the way they should be done,” Dr. Orrin Devinsky of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Langone Medical Center, told The New York Times.

“I would strongly advocate that in the United States we need to do systematic assessments of medical marijuana.”

The Epidiolex study was based on 120 patients who each on average suffered 10-13 seizures on a monthly basis. According to GW, the half that received Epidiolex experienced 39 percent less convulsive seizures over a 14-week trial period, compared with a four-week period just before the treatment started. For those who were only on the placebo, there was only a decrease in seizures of 13 percent.

Like any other drug, Epidiolex has a list of side effects that a person may experience such as diarrhea, fever, drowsiness, and fatigue, among others. The complete list of side effects, along with details on the drug, has yet to be released but GW says that this information will be released at an upcoming medical conference. The company said on Monday that it is in talks with the Food and Drug Administration, as it attempts to get Epidiolex approved for mass market using the study as scientific evidence.

Still, GW insists that Epidiolex was favorably accepted and overall tolerated.

GW also sells numerous other marijuana-based products, such as Sativex which focuses on multiple sclerosis.

While GW has high hopes for Epidiolex, many parents may not risk putting their children on the drug due to fear of interrupting their child’s current treatment.

Specialists involved with sales of Epidiolex predict that the drug will cost anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000 a month, which is a steep price to pay for a marijuana-based product. On the upside, the drug may be the only cannabis-based drug to be covered by insurance companies.