This drug could help children growing up with severe seizures affecting their cognitive and emotional development.
Some people see marijuana as a dangerous gateway drug, leading to other more serious drug addictions. Depending on the person, this may be the case. But there are also clear medicinal uses for the cannabis plant. And the FDA may soon be looking at one of them.
Earlier this April, The Wall Street Journal reported that an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended the administration go ahead and approve a prescription drug used to treat a rare form of epilepsy, that’s derived from the marijuana plant.
If the approval goes ahead, which some say is likely, the medicine would be the first prescription drug in the U.S made from the controversial plant.
The drug is called Epidiolex. It’s used to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
What are these illnesses? Dravet syndrome often triggers seizures in hot weather, or when a patient has a fever. It begins around 6 months of age, and is a progressive illness that develops into other types of seizures.
Children with the syndrome experience delayed language development and motor skills, difficulty sleeping, hyperactivity, chronic infections and other health issues.
For its part, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome also develops in childhood. Those with it suffer seizures that can cause moderate to severe intellectual impairment and consequently, require constant care.
A committee voted in favor of the risk-benefit profile for the new drug, 13-0, to treat patients with these illnesses who were 2 years of age and older.
“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.
Epidiolex includes cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical that comes from the cannabis plant.
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