According to the American Epilepsy Society (AES), Cannabidiol, which is a chemical from Marijuana, shows promise for children with severe epilepsy. The organization has made three studies they presented in the AES 69th annual meeting in Philadelphia. The results appear to show that Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical liquid formulation of cannabidiol, could be effective and safe in epilepsy treatment.

Children with severe epilepsy that had not responded adequately to other treatments, were studied by the researchers. In total, 261 people were involved in the study that was made during 12 weeks with data from patient’s treatments and numbers of seizures prior to the cannabidiol intake. Hematologic, liver and kidney function was also analyzed before treatment and on weeks four, eight and twelve.

According to the AES, cannabidiol may be a promise for children with severe epilepsy. Credit: Chicago Tribune

Cannabidiol is submitting U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States and across the globe by GW Pharmaceuticals. There is evidence that after three months of treatment, the periodicity of all seizures was decreased by a median of 45 percent in all participants, as the AES stated.

It appears that 47 percent of the shares in the study experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizures and nine percent of patients were seizure free, declared the AES who have studied epilepsy and ways to improve epileptics even from a sociological view since 1898.

Even when the results were mainly positive, adverse events occurred in more than 10 percent of participants. However, it could be a non-significant number since the chemical is yet in trials and since the benefits obtained from it could be relevant. The prevalent secondary effects that affected people were somnolence, diarrhea, and fatigue.

“We are pleased to report these promising data on significant numbers of children. These data reinforce and support the safety and efficacy we have shared in previous studies. Most importantly it is providing hope to the children and their families who have been living with debilitating seizures,” lead author Orrin Devinsky, M.D., of New York University Langone Medical Center’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, stated.

That being said, he affirmed the results were from an uncontrolled study and deeper study needs to be developed before results could be confirmed. Hopefully, the scientist explained randomized controlled studies are now underway to help them better understand the effectiveness of the drug and they will be analyzed in 2016, as the AES declared in a statement in its official web page.

Previous studies had obtained similar results but with smaller subsets. Michael Oldham, MPH, formerly at the University of California San Francisco studied long-term effects of Epidiolex. As the American Epilepsy Society concluded, he similarly found a 50 percent reducement of seizures in 10 participants and one participant remained completely seizure free.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, which makes it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.

“Although the social effects vary from country to country, the discrimination and social stigma that surround epilepsy worldwide are often more difficult to overcome than the seizures themselves. People living with epilepsy can be targets of prejudice. The stigma of the disorder can discourage people from seeking treatment for symptoms, so as to avoid becoming identified with the disorder,” the organization declared.

If cannabidiol continues to show positive responses in controlled trials it could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in two to five years.  

Source: American Epilepsy Society