Cannabis drug reduced epileptic seizures in new study

A cannabis-based drug halved the frequency of convulsive seizures in sufferers of a rare, catastrophic form of epilepsy in a late-stage study funded by GW Pharmaceuticals.

The median monthly frequency of convulsive seizures fell to 5.9 from 12.4 among children with a drug-resistant form of Dravet syndrome who took the company’s Epidiolex cannabidiol oral solution. That compared with only a slight decline among patients taking a placebo.

Results of the randomized controlled trial — by researchers in New York, London, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Paris, Melbourne and Boston — were published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While patients on Epidiolex were three times more likely to experience side effects, including sleepiness and diarrhea, than controls, 5 percent of those taking the medicine were seizure-free during the study period, compared with none in the placebo group. The results may help Cambridge, England-based GW Pharmaceuticals win Food and Drug Administration approval for Epidiolex

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