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Cannabidiol Significantly Reduces Seizures in Hard-To-Treat Syndrome

Cannabidiol treatments can lead to a significant reduction in the number of drop seizures for children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, an international study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May showed. A small percentage of treated children actually became seizure-free.

The study was conducted at 30 centers in the United States and Europe. More patients were treated and studied at Nationwide Children’s Hospital than any other site.

“This is a debilitating condition, and these kids have failed many treatments to stop their seizures,” says Anup Patel, MD, section chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and co-lead author of the study. “Not only have we shown that cannabidiol can help, we have heard from many families that their overall quality of life improved while on this medication.”

Researchers enrolled 225 patients with Lenox-Gastaut in the randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. One-third were given a cannabidiol solution of 20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily; one-third a solution of 10 mg/kg daily; and one-third a placebo.

The authors found atonic, tonic and tonic-clonic seizures were cut by at least half among:

  • 39.5 percent of high-dose patients
  • 36 percent of low-dose patients
  • 14 percent of patients receiving a placebo

After 15 days, 7 percent of high-dose patients, 5 percent of low-dose and 1 percent receiving a placebo suffered no seizures.

“Not only have we shown that cannabidiol can help, we have heard from many families that their overall quality of life improved.” – Anup Patel, MD

The cannabidiol used in the study is Epidiolex®, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. The company funded the trial.

Nationwide Children’s and Dr. Patel also participated in an earlier study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that found cannabidiol can reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome. The two studies helped lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve Epidiolex® to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.

"Nationwide Children’s was one of the first to begin researching cannabidiol,” says Dr. Patel. “The study has gone through the same rigorous research process as every other medication in the United States.”

Devinsky O, Patel AD, Cross JH, Villanueva V, Wirrell EC, Privitera M, Greenwood SM, Roberts C, Checketts D, VanLandingham KE, Zuberi SM, GWPCARE3 Study Group. Effect of cannabidiol on drop seizures in the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine. 2018 May 17:378(20): 1888-1897.

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