Cannabis-Based Drug for Epilepsy

A marijuana-derived compound shows continued success in treating children with a rare form of the seizure disorder. 

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst was managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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FLICKR, BOB DORANLondon-based GW Pharmaceuticals announced today (March 14) that its cannabis-based drug Epidiolex significantly reduced seizures in children with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy, in the first of four large trials of the treatment. Specifically, patients taking the drug experienced 39 percent fewer seizures, compared with a 13 percent reduction in the control group.

“This shows that cannabinoids can produce compelling and clinical [sic] important data and represent a highly promising new class of medications, hopefully in a range of conditions,” GW’s chief executive, Justin Gover, told Reuters. The company, which is currently conducting three other Phase 3 trials for patients with Dravet and other rare forms of epilepsy, plans to move forward with its application for US Food and Drug Administration approval. Epidiolex—which is made of cannabidiol, a component of marijuana that does not cause psychoactive effects—would be the first...

(For more on GW Pharmaceuticals and other biotech companies looking to bring cannabis-based drugs through clinical trials, see “Cannabis Biotech,” The Scientist, December 2014.)

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