Study: Efficacy of Cannabis-Derived Epilepsy Drug Sustained Long-Term

Birmingham, AL: The administration of the plant-derived CBD prescription medicine Epidiolex provides sustained relief from seizures in both children and adults with severe forms of epilepsy, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.

Investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham assessed the efficacy of Epidiolex over a two-year period in a cohort of 89 children and 80 adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy. 

Researchers reported that the efficacy of Epidiolex improved the longer subjects took it. They reported: “[The] percentage of children achieving [a] ≥50 percent seizure frequency reduction was 44 percent at month 1, and 41 percent at year 1, and [a] 61 percent reduction at year 2, while adult responder rates were 34 percent at month 1, 53 percent at year 1, and 71 percent at year 2.”

Authors concluded, “Our study provides further evidence of sustained seizure frequency and severity reduction over two years of treatment with highly purified CBD in TRE [treatment-resistant epilepsy].”

A previously published review failed to identify any adverse cognitive effects in children who took Epidiolex long-term. Epidiolex was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2018 as an anti-seizure medication. It is the first cannabis plant-derived medication approved by the FDA. Other cannabis-based medicines available in the United States, like dronabinol, are synthetics.

Full text of the study, “Long-term safety and efficacy of highly purified cannabidiol for treatment of refractory epilepsy,” appears in Epilepsy & Behavior.