Clinical trials of cannabis used to treat epilepsy shows promising results

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SALT LAKE CITY – Could a pharmaceutical grade cannabis help treat young women with severe epilepsy? That’s what researchers at the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital have been looking into the past two years.

“Most of the patients we treat have already been on trials of over 5 usually more than 10 seizure medications or other treatments. Those have been unsuccessful,” said Dr. Francis Filloux, who is overseeing the clinical trials.

Young patients have been taking Epidiolex, a liquid form of Cannabidiol.

Researchers say early clinical results are promising with patients reporting a 40 percent decrease in the amount and severity of seizures.

“There have been mild side effects most of them have been tolerable. For example, children have had diarrhea because of the oil the substance is dissolved in some have been more tired, some changes in appetite,” Filloux said.

Johanne Holme’s son Porter is participating in the clinical trials.

“Eight weeks after he was born, he had his first seizure,” Holmes said.

The 8-year-old finds comfort with his service dog, Thumper, but endures severe seizures.

“He was having at least four or more a month,” Holmes said.

Porter is taking several medications to treat his seizures, but so far nothing has worked.

In July, he began taking Epidiolex and his mom is seeing a big improvement.

“He’s speaking more. He’s interacting more,” Holmes said.

Holme’s understands people’s reservations about the medication. She encourages people to do their homework.

“You have to go in with it with an open mind that it could possibly not work, but fortunately for us it has significantly improved his life,” she said.

Researchers will wrap up testing within the next six months. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the medication could be on the market within two years.

9 comments

  • bob

    I don’t see marijuana as being any more, or less, useful in medical treatment than any other plant.

    HOWEVER…..I don’t see any reason why it should be exempt from exactly the same processes that any other potential treatment is subject to.

    Isolate the specific compounds that are believed to have useful properties. Test them. The same clinical trials as any other medicines. Obtain FDA approval. Etc.

    The only reason people want pot to get a free pass is that it’s pot. They want to get high. Period. If it has medically useful properties they’ll be a lot more useful if they go through the process and are treated like actual MEDICINE and not just a snickering, juvenile excuse to get baked.

    • David Whittington

      Yo Bob My Boy:

      Cannabis has been safely used by humans as a medicine and as an intoxicant for over FIVE THOUSAND years !! Let me say this again. Cannabis has been safely used by humans as a medicine and as an intoxicant for over FIVE THOUSAND years !! And there has not been ONE documented case of a cannabis user overdosing and dying from cannabis usage. Cannabis is the SAFEIST drug in the world – even much safer than aspirin !!

      You prattle on about how cannabis needs further testing. WHY ? Why haven’t MORE scientific tests been completed relative to the use of cannabis ? I will tell you why. Richard Nixon hated the hippie anti-war movement. Richard Nixon pressured the DEA to make cannabis a Schedule I narcotic – right up there next to heroin and cocaine, simply to punish the anti-war cannabis using hippies. It is simply sheer INSANITY the DEA still lists cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic !! Testing of the medical efficacy of cannabis should have been completed over 50 years ago !!

      Cannabis is COMPLETELY legal in Colorado and many other states are finally getting on the legal cannabis train. And of course Utah will be the LAST state to get on this train because the Utah legislature is full of old white men who let their strong beliefs in superstitions override FACTS – the same thing you are doing with your silly anti-cannabis rant.

      The best thing YOU could do now would be to pack your bong with a pinch of Sour Diesel and grab a bag of Doritos and giggle through some old Seinfeld episodes. Your tiny closed mind would then be opened to an entirely new way of viewing cannabis.

      • Dusty Relic

        Actually cannabis is not “right up there next to cocaine”; cocaine is just a schedule II drug. Not nearly as dangerous as Marihuana, the deadly harbinger of reefer madness and other scary monsters .

    • analogismos

      “The only reason people want pot to get a free pass is that it’s pot. They want to get high. Period.”
      BS. I have good friends with an epileptic child who cloud potentially be helped by this. I suspect that neither of them have ever so much as pretended to inhale. In general Bob, you should try to realize that all people are who they are, not who you think they are.

    • ignitionnight (@ignitionnight)

      “The only reason people want pot to get a free pass is that it’s pot. They want to get high.”
      So? What’s the problem? I agree that a large majority of people want weed to be legal for recreational purposes and only a small portion of them have legitimate medical needs. But so what. When there is zero harm caused what is the point of keeping it illegal? What is the point of keeping it illegal ESPECIALLY when there are so many medical possibilities, is it just to screw over the guy who wants to get high? Seems pretty childish to me.

      • Dusty Relic

        I don’t know if “childish” is an adjective I’d associate with a cannabis policy that literally ruins kids’ lives with a police record over literally nothing, that encourages police to oppress and abuse the people whom they are sworn to server, which has pretty much completely undermined the governments of several Central and South American countries, and which has lead to the desecration of our constitutional rights with abuses like civil asset forfeiture and no-knock warrants. No, children are sweet and fun if a little bit silly. Our current cannabis policies are nothing like that.

    • Dusty Relic

      I hate to break it to you, BOB, but everything you wrote is flat out wrong. Do you really think the results of this study are due to a conspiracy by epileptic toddlers who want to get high? Your comment is ridiculous on its face and based on ignorance and superstition.

      Besides, it is exactly because of the processes that any other potential treatments are subject to that people are flocking to less poisonous alternatives, with cannabis being one of the better known ones. The problem with the processes that pharmaceutical drugs are subject to is that it results in an isolated molecule which may or may not be as effective as the plant it came from. Meanwhile, it has lost all semblance to its natural state and is no longer a natural food; it is now a processed product and therefore potentially as dangerous as processed snacks and meats and other manufactured foods. Some manufactured pharmaceuticals are even more dangerous than processed food; the current opiate crisis is unfortunately a perfect example of this.

      Another example is marinol, which is a synthetic form of THC and created to be used instead of cannabis for treating conditions that respond to cannabis. This drug is widely disliked by patients because, unlike cannabis, it has very unpleasant side effects and is not as effective at pain relief as the whole plant, which is comprised of a rich assortment of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other molecules.

      In fact, scientists already know a lot about several of the compounds in cannabis and one of the things that they have learned is that they work better in tandem than alone. In the medical cannabis community, efforts are focused on determining which proportions of the different molecules are most effective for specific ailments and some progress has been been made on this front (although it is a much more complex problem than a single-molecule investigation).

  • Bob

    The Medical marijuana bills didnt even get past the front door on the house. When the legislators in the church office building say thumbs down. Does anybody expect the mostly Mormon house to disagree.
    Pull the string and the puppets dance.

  • Linda Ripplinger

    Our granddaughter has been part of the study, and this treatment IS helping her. The data is remarkable to show an improvement. She has had seizures her whole life, and this gives us some hope that she will be able to lead a productive life without frequent seizures and injury. Our family has always taught that drug abuse is wrong, but we have learned to open our minds. We have studied the issue and now understand better that this use of cannabis is a valid, helpful treatment. Our experience with the improvement of our granddaughter’s health supports this notion.

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