Although antiepileptic properties of cannabis plant had been described by Arabic physicians in 10th century , their potential has been forgotten for years as a result of repressive law regulations banning cannabis away from the pharmaceutical market. It’s been only few years since medical properties of cannabis gained their recognition from scientific field and anecdotal reports into proper medical research and political attention.
Now, thanks to the sincere commitment of the GW pharmaceuticals, we’re finally able to harvest the crops of that research. Sativex, cannabis based formulation of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol at 1:1 ratio, was their first product that was authorized in 2010 in UK, and then later in other countries of EU, for Multiple Sclerosis treatment. 8 years later, the company made a breakthrough for the first cannabis-based drug in US, it’s Epidiolex.
After 5 years of research, 3 clinical trials, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of US approved the use of Epidiolex for treatment of Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. Decision was based on a results which showed more than 40% drop in seizure occurrence following treatment with cannabidiol, an active ingredient of Epidiolex, and manageable side-effects. What’s remarkable about that is the fact that both syndromes are characterized by heavy seizures and very early onset in childhood. Because of that reasons, minimizing the number of seizures is essential to avoid disturbances in brain development. Nevertheless those syndromes are very difficult to treat. Traditional anticonvulsants often fail to manage the seizures and up to date, there was no specific drug approved for Dravet syndrome treatment.
The main positive outcome of the FDA approval for Epidiolex is definitely a relief in suffering of specific group of patients, but once approved, the drug could be prescribed for other uses as well. And this could pave the way for novel cannabis-based drugs in the future.