Marijuana safe to treat epilepsy in kids: Study

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Sydney Aug 13 (IANS) Consuming a marijuana-based drug may be safe in treating children with severe epilepsy, results of a clinical trial has showed.

Following treatment with cannabidiol — a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana — about one in five children were described as much or very much improved from their baseline, while around half reported none, or a very slight improvement, Xinhua news agency reported.

While the trial was conducted on a small group of children with severe epilepsy, it showed that the drug had a manageable side effect profile, but only showed extensive symptom relief for a brief number of patients.

The trial “involved the sickest children with epilepsy — children who are having seizures many times per day, who have been recently hospitalized for their epilepsy, and have failed on average about nine anti-epilepsy drugs before,” said lead author John Lawson, paediatric neurologist at Sydney’s Children’s Hospital.

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“The main aim of the study was about safety. We found that there were a few safety concerns but overall those safety issues were very manageable and the drug overall was very safe for the majority,” he added.

The study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Although legally cannabis must be prescribed by a doctor, recent reports of cannabis derivatives being successful in treating children with epilepsy have led to a number of parents of sick children sourcing their own medical marijuana.

While the study’s authors said the results were significant, they stressed that the purpose of this study was about safety not efficacy.

The US Food and Drug Administration had recently approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) [CBD] oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy — Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome — in patients two years of age and older.

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–IANS

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