A new CBD-based drug intended for the treatment of epilepsy has been unanimously recommended for approval by an FDA advisory panel. If the FDA follows the recommendation, this medication is set to become the first cannabis-derived prescription medication available in the United States.
"This is a very good development, and it basically underscores that there are medicinal properties to some of the cannabinoids," Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California San Diego told The New York Times. "I think there could well be other cannabinoids that are of therapeutic use, but there is just not enough research on them to say."
The medication is recommended for the treatment of two rare and difficult to treat forms of epilepsy - Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. For most patients suffering from these conditions, none of the currently available medications prevent them from having seizures. These conditions often appear early in childhood (before the age of 5) and high numbers of seizures can lead to cognitive disabilities.
"It’s very important that we have additional treatments because these patients have very, very difficult to control seizures," said Dr. Jerzy P. Szaflarski, a neurology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who directs the university’s epilepsy division. "I get questions about cannabidiol almost every day."
While the FDA doesn't have to follow the recommendations of the advisory panel, it often does. People like Christian SanInocencio who have experience with these kinds of epilepsy are hopeful that the new drugs will gain full approval.
"I have a brother with the disorder," Ms. SanInocencio said. "I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of families who have kids living with it. It’s so devastating. Any new medicine that comes to the market is a really big win for our community."
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