NSW announces medical cannabis trial for severely epileptic children

By @Guneet_B on
Medical Marijuana For Epilepsy
People wearing marijuana leaf hats gather during a rally in support of cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Chile, Santiago March 18, 2015. Reuters

The NSW Government has decided to undertake trials for medical cannabis drugs on children who suffer from severe epilepsy. The trial, involving a new cannabis-derived drug, is being conducted on epileptic children for the first time in the world.

Premier Mike Baird announced on Tuesday that the drug, Epidiolex, will be tested in the state from early 2016. As a part of $9 million series of trial, the drug will be prescribed to children with drug-resistant, severe epilepsy.

The government has partnered with UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals to conduct the testing, according to Sydney Morning Herald. The study will be facilitated by the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. Announcing the partnership, Baird said that it was a “historic day” for the state and families who faced the challenges associated with drug-resistant epilepsy.

Epidiolex contains cannabinoid cannibidivarin. The latter has anticonvulsant properties, however, it does not produce any kind of psychoactive effect, unlike other herbal cannabis-based compounds.

During the trial, the researchers will primarily look at the effect of the drug on the virtually untreatable form of the disease called Dravet syndrome. As of now, no treatment option has proved to be effective against the syndrome.

News.com.au reports that the NSW trial is based on the study results of a research conducted by the US scientists in April 2015. The use of medicinal marijuana liquid extract on 23 people reduced the number of convulsive seizures for Dravets sufferers by almost 53 percent.

Dravet syndrome affects 1 in 40,000 live births. A child with the syndrome experiences severe daily seizures that may last for minutes.

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