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New CBD-based Drug Helps With Epilepsy Symptoms

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CBD, or purified cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is known for it’s medicinal properties, and has been used to informally treat seizure disorders for years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may approve a CBD-based anti-seizure medication that will be available with a prescription, within the next year.

Epidolex, a drug developed by DW Pharmaceuticals, “significantly reduced monthly drop seizure frequency compared to placebo in highly treatment-resistant patients when added to existing treatments.”

The drug has been effective in various types of epilepsy, including a rare form known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, as well as Dravet Syndrome. A study conduced randomly grouped 171 epilepsy patients into two groups; one received Epidolex, and the other received a placebo.  The study showed that 44% of those who took Epidolex noticed a significant reduction in seizures.

The New Drug Application was accepted by the FDA in December, and is expected to become available this summer. About 1,500 patients are already taking Epidolex, as part of the FDA’s “compassionate use” exemption, which allows some patients to use drugs before they’re approved.

The cannabis plant, including CBD, is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic. This is defined as having no medicinal value and high abuse potential.  The approval of a CBD-based medication would chisel away at the stigma against marijuana and its many possible uses.

Elizabeth Thiele, director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital told the Washington Post, “For some, it does not do a whole lot.  But for the people it does work in, it is priceless.”

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