In a historic move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Epidiolex — an epilepsy medication made from purified cannabidiol (CBD), found in cannabis. Read all about it and what it could mean for the future of cannabis-based treatments. As background, see these other recent write-ups we’ve done on medical cannabis/marijuana and CBD.
What is Epidiolex?
Epidiolex “is a liquid formulation of pure plant-derived cannabidiol as a treatment for various orphan pediatric epilepsy syndromes,” according to GW Pharmaceuticals, the U.K.-based company that markets the medication (an oral solution).
Some other info to keep in mind:
- Limited scope of approval — The FDA approved the treatment specifically for two rare and severe forms of child-onset epilepsy — Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome — in patients 2 years of age and older.
- No THC — Epidiolex is made from purified CBD and does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of marijuana that causes a euphoric “high.”
- Thorough research — Researchers studied the treatment’s effectiveness in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving 516 patients. Epidiolex (taken along with other medications) helped reduce the frequency of seizures when compared with a placebo. Research also found the medication has a very low potential for abuse.
- Side effects — The FDA says the most common side effects that occurred in Epidiolex-treated patients in the clinical trials were: sleepiness, sedation and lethargy; elevated liver enzymes; decreased appetite; diarrhea; rash; fatigue, malaise and weakness; insomnia, sleep disorder and poor quality sleep; and infections.
- Cannabis and CBD still controlled substances — Despite the approval of Epidiolex, other CBD and cannabis products are still currently (July 2018) “Schedule I” controlled substances under federal law, the FDA says (again, check out our CBD report for more info on laws and other FAQs).
Some reports say that Epidiolex could be prescribed for off-label uses (for patients with other forms of epilepsy), and its approval could open the door for other cannabis-based treatments
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies,” says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “The FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development.”
GW Pharmaceuticals lists other possible treatments they’re studying or developing. GW also markets Sativex (nabiximols) in several other countries to treat cancer pain and multiple sclerosis spasticity, Forbes reports, and a U.S. phase 3 trial is planned to test Sativex for MS spasticity.
What’s your reaction to the approval of Epidiolex? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to discuss Epidiolex and CBD with others in the forum, and explore treatments members have tried.
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Medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) are getting a lot of media coverage — so what’s the latest, as it relates to lung cancer?
See two recent high-profile articles that weigh the possible risks and benefits of cannabis for cancer and respiratory disease. And add your perspective.
(Psst, checkout past PatientsLikeMe write-ups on medical marijuana and CBD for some background.)
Risk factor or treatment?
Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report published an article called “Is Marijuana a Risk Factor or a Treatment Option for Lung Cancer?”
Some key points?
- Marijuana smoke has many of the same toxins as cigarette smoke, so it could harm the lungs. But the doctors and researchers behind a 2017 report say they have not found conclusive evidence showing that smoking cannabis causes lung cancer (some doctors note that it’s difficult to study because many who’ve smoked marijuana have also smoked tobacco, and there are fewer people who are heavy or habitual cannabis users).
- The 2017 report did show a “slightly higher chance of having adenocarcinoma if you were a habitual [marijuana] smoker than if you were not or a never-user,” but the evidence was still “weak” and not statistically significant, according to doctors involved in the report.
- Some research (including this 2018 study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine) has shown that cannabis can have a positive effect on symptoms many people undergoing cancer treatment experience, including pain, nausea, sleep problems and decreased appetite. There’s relatively little research in the U.S. on the effects of medical cannabis because it’s still illegal at the federal level and hard to obtain for studies, even in states with medical marijuana laws and CBD laws.
- The American Cancer Society reminds people that “relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
Another closeup on cannabis
The New York Times also did a deep dive on medical marijuana risks vs. benefits this spring with their article called “It’s Time for a New Discussion of Marijuana’s Risks.”
What are some takeaways related to lung health?
- Citing a 2005 study, The Times says, “No association was found between smoking marijuana and lung cancer.”
- Although lung function (in the general population) may actually improve in the short term after smoking cannabis, a long-term look shows that chronic marijuana smoking may harm lung function, research shows.
- Although marijuana may not have a strong link to cancer, check out the full article for other considerations, such as some increased risks when it comes to certain mental health conditions, short-term memory loss and impaired driving.
Join PatientsLikeMe or sign in to see what members say
Some PatientsLikeMe members with lung cancer have included cannabis and cannabidiol/CBD on their profile as treatments they’ve tried. Logged-in members can see what others have said in the forum about:
Anything to add based on your own experiences? Add a comment below or join the conversation on this topic with others living with lung cancer.
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- Filed Under: Cancer, Conditions, Openness, Research
- Tags: Benefits, cannabis, CBD laws, CBD oil, drug research, lung cancer, marijuana, marijuana research, medical marijuana, Risks, weed