U.K. company GW Pharmaceuticals Plc has created the first drug derived from the marijuana plant that might soon be approved in the U.S. Created with plants bred to have high cannabidiol, or CBD, content, the medication is a purified chemical made into a strawberry-flavored oral solution. GW Pharma hopes to market the medication under the name Epidiolex.

“The drug company is seeking to sell the oral solution to treat seizures associated with two forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, in patients aged 2 or older. Both are considered severe forms of epilepsy that begin in childhood. The syndromes are resistant to many treatments and as many as 20 percent of children with Dravet syndrome die before reaching adulthood, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The FDA has approved a few drugs made from synthetic cannabinoids, including Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s Syndros for loss of appetite in people with AIDS and nausea caused by chemotherapy. Insys is developing a cannabidiol oral solution for a severe type of epileptic seizure known as infantile spasms, and childhood epilepsy defined by staring spells where the child isn’t aware or responsive.”1

(In a report released by the FDA, it was noted that although the medication appears to have an increased risk of liver injury, it is manageable. 2)

While approval of “Epidiolex” could help pave the way for other cannabis-based drugs, non-synthetic CBD oil is currently available, as well. Check out the video below:

(I happen to love CBD oil and use it daily. In fact, I worked with an organic company based in Chicago to create my own CBD line. Check it out here.)

To date, twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana. However, if this drug is approved by the FDA it would provide patients with a therapy that would likely be covered by insurance. And hopefully, if that happens, insurance companies will allow families to use their HSA accounts to purchase the CBD they are already using. Perhaps even one day, insurance companies and doctors will prescribe non-synthetic CBD oils like Charlotte’s web, as treatment.

One can always dream.

The FDA is expected to decide whether to approve GW Pharma’s drug by June 27.

Sources and References

  1. Bloomberg, April 17, 2018.
  2. Bloomberg, April 17, 2018.