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First Cannabinoid Epilepsy Treatment Trial in UK

First Cannabinoid Epilepsy Treatment Trial in UK

In the United Kingdom, approximately 40,000 children have been diagnosed with epilepsy, and many do not receive relief from the strong pharmaceuticals on the market today. In an attempt to further treatment education, trials will begin for a new epilepsy treatment medication, called Epidiolex, in several locations throughout the United Kingdom.

Epidiolex is a purified cannabis extract containing only the cannabinoid, cannabibiol (CBD). It does not contain any amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is known to produce a feeling of being “high.” Cannabidiol (CBD) is the cannabinoid that has been showing positive results in the treatment of many debilitating medical conditions including epilepsy. CBD trials in the United States have shown that the cannabinoid can reduce the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures.

Facilities participating in the trial include the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, Edinburgh University’s Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

When asked about the study, Dr. Richard Chin, Director of the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre explained,

“Many children with serious forms of epilepsy do not respond to the medications that we currently have available. We need new means of treating these conditions so that we can give back some quality of life to these children and their families.”

The trials, funded by the creator and manufacturer of Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals, have been approved to begin enrolling children suffering from the severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome in facilities in Scotland and England. These studies are specifically seeking participants who have not seen results from commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals. In each set of ten participants, eight will be treated with Epidiolex, and two participants will be given a placebo instead. This phase of the trial will last for a total of twenty-one days. Out of thirty participants, twenty-four will be treated with one of three different dosage amounts of the CBD medication. The purpose of this phase of the study is to determine the ideal dosage for children suffering from Dravet Syndrome.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved trials for this same medicine, Epidiolex, in the United States last month. The FDA also approved a study of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, derived directly from cannabis plants, to begin at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. These trials are not starting soon enough, as many children have already lost their lives to epilepsy without ever having the chance to try cannabinoid therapy because it is illegal throughout much of the world.


photo credit: mnepilepsy

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