Marijuana Based Anti-Seizure Medication Could Hit the Shelves in 2018

It is fairly well-documented the marijuana and marijuana-derived products are particularly effective at treating conditions that cause seizures. However, patients who need access to these products can only do so in states with medical marijuana laws. But a new drug would allow people around the United States to use a cannabis-derived product regardless of their state's laws.

A new drug called Epidiolex is expected to hit the shelves in the second half of 2018, pending FDA approval. The drug is meant to treat a condition called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which causes a person to suffer from regular seizures that are often untreatable with other medications. Epidiolex is based on purified cannabidiol (CBD), the compound in marijuana that is effective at treating seizures.

According to trials run by GW Pharmaceuticals, the company behind Epidiolex, the drug is significantly more effective at treating Lennox-Gastaut than other medications. In their studies, GW Pharmaceuticals found around 44 percent of patients taking the drug saw improvements in their condition, compared to 22 percent in the placebo group. While 44 percent may not seem like a lot, the patients in this trial were people who had tried on average six different medications to treat their symptoms and saw no improvement. That implies it's far more effective than other medications already on the market.

Medications derived from CBD to treat conditions are already on the market, but are only allowed in states with medical marijuana laws. Epidiolex will be different than these other medications because it will be a medication to be prescribed by a doctor no matter where they're located. 

The drug still needs FDA approval before hitting the shelves later this year, but it seems likely that will happen. Epidiolex is actually already being used by around 1,500 people in the United States under the FDA's "compassionate use" policy that allows drugs under investigation to be used by people with serious conditions.

(h/t Washington Post)

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