Cannabis-derived epilepsy drug one step closer to FDA approval

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An FDA committee recently recommended the approval of a marijuana-derived drug to treat epilepsy. This would be the first prescription medicine derived from plant-based cannabidiol (CBD) in the United States.

CNN reports the drug, Epidiolex, is intended to treat severe forms of epilepsy. The FDA has approved synthetic versions of cannabinoid chemicals in the past, usually for cancer pain relief.

The new experimental medication utilizes a chemical compound in cannabis that doesn’t get a user high, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Should Epidiolex gain final approval, the FDA would limit its use to epilepsy patients. However, doctors would have the leeway to prescribe the drug for “off-label” uses.

The company marketing Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals, has recently developed another cannabis-derived drug, Sativex, for treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms. That drug has not been approved in all countries, according to GW Pharmaceuticals.

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