Cannabis-based drug Epidiolex to be given to 40 NSW children with the worst cases of epilepsy

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Epilepsy
Maree Robson, 32, former epilepsy sufferer, answers questions at a news conference in Melbourne's Saint Vincent Hospital July 22, 1999. Reuters/Will Burgess

The New South Wales government has procured a cannabis-based medicine, oral drug Epidiolex from United Kingdom, that can treat 40 child patients with severe epilepsy. It has announced that NSW children with the worst cases of drug-resistant epilepsy will be Australia’s first to gain access to medicinal cannabis.

The drug has already been trialled overseas. NSW Premier Mike Baird said that children in the state with the worst cases of epilepsy would be provided the drug. He spoke to parents of such children and was moved by their tears. He said it is impossible to imagine what it would be like to witness one’s own children suffer and continue to suffer.

The drug Epidiolex would be made accessible to the 40 children via a compassionate access scheme. Medical marijuana trials are set to start in NSW later this year, although the scheme will be administered outside of these trials.

“Hopefully we will have hundreds involved in the next 12 months [in the trials] ... This is not a miracle for everyone. Maybe one in 10 will have a very good response and maybe one in three will have a good response. But this is in a group where there has been no hope,” Sydney Children's Hospital’s Dr. John Lawson told the ABC.

Lawson also said he is optimistic that the medical trials set to start later this year would increase the number of patients provided access to the drug. He added that it was unfortunate the drug was initially being limited to a small number of children.

Children who would be administered the drug Epidiolex, would be carefully monitored over a 12-week period.

“We have embarked on an ambitious research program to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids for patients suffering from a range of debilitating conditions,” minister for Medical Research, Pru Goward, said in a statement.

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