Marijuana derivative reduces seizures in people with treatment-resistant epilepsy

Marijuana derivative reduces seizures in people with treatment-resistant epilepsy

Cannabidiol (CBD), a medical marijuana derivative, was effective in reducing seizure frequency and well-tolerated and safe for most children and young adults enrolled in a year-long study led by epilepsy specialists at NYU Langone Medical Center.

These latest findings provide the first estimates of safety, tolerability and efficacy of prescription CBD in children and adults with severe, highly treatment-resistant epilepsy. The study is published in the journal  Lancet Neurology

The study took place at 11 epilepsy centers across the country. Patients were given an oral CBD regimen (Epidiolex) from 2-5 mg/kg per day, with a dose up-titrated until intolerance occurred or to a maximum dose of 25 mg/kg or 50 mg/kg per day, depending on the trial site. Seizures were recorded by parents or caregivers in diaries and reviewed by the study team at each visit.

Results showed a median 36.5 percent reduction in monthly motor seizures, with the median monthly frequency of motor seizures falling from 30 motor seizures a month at the study's start to 15.8 over the 12 weeks.

Equally important, CBD was shown to have a sufficient safety profile and was well-tolerated by many patients, despite some isolated adverse events.

Adverse events were reported among participants, including drowsiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fatigue and convulsion. Most were mild to moderate and transient, but 20 patients had serious adverse events related to CBD use -most commonly status epilepticus, or seizures that last too long or too close together. Five patients had to discontinue treatment due to these adverse events.

But before we raise hopes for families who regularly deal with the devastation of treatment-resistant epilepsy, more research, including further studies through our ongoing randomized controlled trial, are needed to definitively recommend CBD as a treatment to patients with uncontrolled seizures" author said.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(15)00379-8/abstract
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