According to research being performed by pediatrics experts at the University of Utah, at least half of the state’s children who are suffering from epilepsy may be able to benefit from the use of Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is a medical-grade cannabidiol (CBD) that is derived from cannabis plants and manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, a London-based company. While CBD is derived from marijuana, it does not produce the same chemical high. The University was recently given the green light by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to work with Primary Children’s Hospital to test the effectiveness of Epidiolex on childhood epilepsy.
The Utah Legislature authorized the clinical trial on Epidiolex and additionally generated a registry for children suffering from intractable epilepsy. At least 1,500 Utah children have been entered into this database, which was created so that they and their families can legally access the hemp extract. By the end of June, the Department of Health had approved and issued 84 cards.
The clinical trial is being closely watched, especially since its implications could result in the drafting of a bill that would broaden access to medical marijuana, making it easier for other patients to use it for their conditions. Although some lawmakers support the idea of expansion, there are still many who oppose it, like Kevin Sabet, a representative of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
Sabet is pushing for the state to move away from the use of medical marijuana and lean more towards waiting for Congress to create compassionate use legislation. Sabet has been accused of running a smear campaign against the use of medical marijuana, despite the fact that he is a supporter of medical CBD and the University of Utah’s research.
Of course, the University of Utah’s research is still in the early stages. Researchers are working to analyze data that is not expected to be complete for another six months. The current results appear to be very encouraging, with over half of the study participants experiencing fewer seizures, and supporters and researchers are hopeful that the FDA will take notice and approve the use of Epidiolex in the near future. According to Ed Clark, head of pediatrics at the University of Utah,
“It is an encouraging study and it is the first step in a very long process.”
He went on to say that whether and when the FDA will approve Epidiolex is unknown.
So far, approximately $100,000 has been spent by the University for the first trial involving 25 children. Although the University would like to expand the study “tenfold,” it will need more funding to do so.