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AAN: Cannabis-Based Medicine May Help Tough-to-Treat Epilepsy

HealthDay News
Updated: Apr 19th 2017

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WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Cannabidiol may reduce seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held from April 22 to 28 in Boston.

Anup Patel, M.D., of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, and colleagues tested cannabidiol in 225 young patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The patients had an average age of 16 years. Each month, the study participants had an average of 85 drop seizures. The patients were taking an average of three epilepsy drugs at the time of the study. For 14 weeks, the participants also received either a higher or lower dose of daily cannabidiol, or an inactive placebo, in addition to their current medications.

The patients who took the higher dose had a 42 percent reduction in drop seizures overall, and for 40 percent of this group, their seizures were reduced by half or more. The patients who took the lower dose had a 37 percent reduction in drop seizures overall, and for 36 percent, seizures were reduced by half or more. Those in the placebo group had a 17 percent reduction in drop seizures overall, and for 15 percent, seizures were reduced by half or more. Side effects were reported by 94 percent of those in the higher-dose group, 84 percent of those taking the lower dose, and 72 percent of those taking the placebo. Most side effects were mild to moderate, and the two most common were decreased appetite and sleepiness.

Compared to those in the placebo group, patients who took cannabidiol were up to 2.6 times more likely to say their overall condition had improved, according to the study. "Our results suggest that cannabidiol may be effective for those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in treating drop seizures," Patel said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

The study was supported by GW Pharmaceuticals.

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