Spain approves first cannabis-based drug for epilepsy

by Lorraine Williamson
epilepsy drug

Two rare forms of epilepsy can now be treated in Spain with a special medicine recently approved by the Spanish government. It includes Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the components of the cannabis plant. 

Various countries have approved the use of CBD oil in recent years. However, Spain lagged behind in the area of ​​medicinal cannabis use. Because until recently, Spanish law made no distinction between recreational and medicinal cannabis use. Therefore, it was not possible to obtain recipes for cannabis products containing more than the permitted 0.2% THC. 

However, after almost 2 years of clinical trials, the Spanish Ministry of Health has recently approved the use of CBD. This will be suitable for patients older than 2 years. 

Medicine for rare forms of epilepsy 

The product that GW Pharmaceuticals recently presented for the Spanish market is Epidyolex. Therefore, this drug, together with clobazam, is now available in hospital pharmacies. And as such, can be prescribed for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastault (SLG) and Dravet (DS) syndrome. 

These rare forms of epilepsy have high mortality rates. As patients often have several attacks in a day, they are therefore also at high risk of injuring themselves. 

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Who is GW Pharmaceuticals? 

Pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals is the world leader in medicines based on cannabinoids, the main components of cannabis. In September 2019, the European Commission approved this drug, making CBD the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed for prescription. 

Approval in Spain after two years of clinical trials 

The company recently completed clinical trials involving 714 people in more than ten hospitals in Spain. And in all participants, use of the drug resulted in an improved state of health and fewer epileptic seizures. But the most commonly mentioned side effects are drowsiness and loose stools or diarrhea. However, these are symptoms that can be easily remedied by adjusting the dose of Epidyolex. 

According to one of the neurologists of the Hospital Universtiari i Politècnic La Fe in Valencia, the use of Epidyolex in SLG patients causes 40% fewer attacks. Although people are still far from being cured of epilepsy, this drug does contribute to improving the quality of life of these patients. 

Commitment to develop cannabis-based products 

The general manager of GW Pharmaceuticals in Spain and Portugal, Inés Perea, said he was proud the drug was approved. At the same time as the license, the company was given a commitment to continue developing cannabis-based products that can improve the quality of life of patients with epilepsy, sleep disorders, and tumors. 

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