In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug that contains CBD or Cannabidiol derived from hemp plant similar to marijuana to treat seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome known to be rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved drug that contains similar compounds seen in marijuana is also approved to be used to treat patients with Dravet syndrome, which means that its ability goes beyond treating seizure symptoms of epilepsy.
The FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D further mentioned that such efforts to develop and advance programs in evaluating active ingredients that can be found in marijuana plants are needed in order to cure certain diseases. These efforts will even lead to breakthroughs in the medical field. However, he admitted that controlled clinical trials and careful review of the active ingredients are still needed to be done in order to ensure users’ safety and the products’ efficacy.
Unlike the typical marijuana which contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that causes euphoria, intoxication, and the “high” feeling, CBD is not psychoactive and is generally safe to use. In fact, other forms of CBD products like delta 8 have been all around the market.
Although it is used as a drug for treating seizures and Dravet syndrome, the FDA further announced that it is still not strongly advised to use CBD for treating other illnesses. In fact, certain doses in particular patients are still needed to be tested in order to find out what CBD is capable of treating. The danger of overdosage is that similar to marijuana and other medicines, CBD can still incite certain side effects that may be undesirable to most users and may be dangerous to those who have chronic diseases. Furthermore, CBD, in certain dosage, may react to any other compounds in the body. This being said, if the user is sick and is currently taking medications, he needs to call his doctor before taking CBD as it can react negatively to the medications he is taking.
Dravet syndrome is a rare epileptic syndrome. It is a genetic condition that occurs in 1-year old children which causes them to develop frequent fever-related seizures. Later, the child would develop other kinds of seizures like myoclonic seizures. Although the seizure is not detrimental to the child’s life, continuous seizure occurrence can be life-threatening, so there is a need to treat such seizure symptoms. Prolonged exposure to seizures, especially those with Dravert syndrome, have poor motor, language, and social skills, which robs the children of the future they deserve.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is also experienced by children aging from 3 up until 5. children with Lennox-Gastaut also develop seizures where their muscles contract involuntarily. Similar to Dravet Syndrome, children with this kind of epilepsy develop cognitive disability and learning problems. Some patients may even need assistance in doing mundane activities.
Provided with the effects of these seizures, the development of Epidiolex can be a life-changer to children who have these syndromes. The pharmaceutical drug needs to be dispensed with a Medication Guide to help inform guardians or users about its risks and proper usage. And although it is deemed effective, patients may still experience certain side effects.