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Good news for epilepsy patients because UK authorities have finally given their nod for Epidiolex

Good news for epilepsy patients

Epilepsy is a serious issue and only patients afflicted with the disorder know how much they have endured. But looks like the European authorities have finally started caring because it has given its go-ahead for a medical cannabis-based product for childhood epilepsy. The drug is stated to be made legally available in the UK and the rest of Europe. The pharmaceutical giant GW Pharmaceuticals has received a nod from the European authorities to carry forward their production and sale of the drug.

GW which is based out of Cambridge has confirmed that the European Medicines Agency and the European Commission has given their green signals for Epidiolex for two rare forms of epilepsy namely Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome for sufferers aged two years and older. The drug is mainly used for its anti-seizure properties and is quite effective also.

Close to 50,000 children and young people have the syndrome with the UK alone have10,000 patients suffering from it?Approval for this plant-extracted cannabidiol solution comes as a respite for many children who just can’t take it anymore. Cannabidiol or CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. Unlike Marijuana, CBD does get anyone high with its intake because it has less than 0.3% of THC in it. This is opposite in the case of marijuana which has a higher proportion of THC in it. CBD is fast catching upon health care and cosmetics industry mainly because of its medicinal values and that it is anti-inflammatory.

Chris Tovey who is the COO of the pharma giant has confirmed that they are in discussions with NICE, UK to make the drug available in NHS. It also is in talks with several European countries for the availability of drugs. In the US market, this drug already is in use and about 15,000 severe cases of epilepsy have been treated. The medicine has received rave reviews by the users and their families which are why NICE has agreed to fund Epidiolex on NHS. But NICE has decided against Sativex which is produced by GW for the treatment of Multiple sclerosis. The main reason behind NICE turning it down is due to the exorbitant price of the drug.

A change in UK law last year meant medicinal cannabis can be prescribed legally. The change was made after the mother of Billy Caldwell, who has treatment-resistant epilepsy, publicly defied the authorities to bring cannabis oil into the UK.

The UK law change has been triggered when the mother of Billy Caldwell who is a severe case of Epilepsy, called for government intervention when she had to legally import CBD. The escalation costs due to this sourcing were rendering her penniless which was why she pleaded with the government to do something. Luckily for all the child patients, this approval has come as a major relief. Now hopes have been built.

Patients suffering from different versions of LGS or Dravet face the worst nightmare of their life with more than 3 or 4 seizures in a day. Due to these issues, the mortality rates have increased and patients before reaching their 20’s have died. Epidiolex has been extremely helpful in reducing the seizures because it has anti-seizure formulation. The basic side-effects although upon taking the drug will be increased need to sleep, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, and vomiting. But the good news is that more than 150 people have been treated with medicine in the UK.

The doctors can now prescribe but are still reluctant because there is no scientific backing up yet. Isabella who is currently chairing the Dravet Syndrome European Federation is thrilled that finally a treatment option has been opened up and will be receiving the final nod from EMA. GW encouraged by the move also has applied for drug approval in Switzerland and Israel. It also will be funding researches that will treat other forms of epilepsy.

Not just epilepsy, CBD also has been effective in the treatment of several other diseases like Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and anxiety-related issues, joint pains and injury cases. People have vouched for its effectiveness. All along with companies and major TV personalities have been very strong advocates of CBD, but the federal law has left everyone in a confusing state because of its indecision. People also are hopeful with the miracles of CBD but will have to wait for more researches to confirm their claim.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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