Ending the pain of children with severe epilepsy?

An audit of the impact of medical cannabis in 10 patients with severe epilepsy.

Background

Scientific and anecdotal evidence suggest that whole-plant cannabis extracts are effective in reducing seizure frequency in individuals with a range of epileptic etiologies. We report a case series of 10 individuals using CBMPs in the UK to treat their conditions.

Methods

In this retrospective study, we report on patients (aged 2-48) with severe, intractable, childhood-onset epilepsies using combined cannabinoid therapy. Carers of patients provided details through the charity ‘End our Pain’ and these data were subsequently analysed. Our primary objective was to assess changes in monthly seizure frequency pre and post-initiation of CBMPs. We also report on previous and current AED, CBD:THC daily dose, quality of life and financial costs associated with CBMP private prescription. Change in monthly seizure frequency was assessed using a Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test.

Results

Of the 10 patients enrolled in the study there was an 97% mean reduction in monthly seizure frequency post-initiation of CBMPs which was statistically significant (Z = 0, p < 0·01). We showed a reduction in AED use following initiation of CBMPs from a mean of 8 (±5·98) to 1 (±1·05). All patients were using either Bedrolite or Bedica (Bedrocan International) as their CBMP. Individual daily doses of THC ranged from 6·6mg – 26·5mg and for CBD, 200 mg – 550 mg. The average monthly cost of CBMP was £1816·20.

Interpretation

Our findings suggest a combination of CBD and THC based products are effective in reducing seizure frequency in a range of epileptic conditions. We highlight the inefficacy of the healthcare system in supporting these patients who bare great personal and financial burdens. We encourage specialist physicians and relevant bodies to permit greater ease of access of these medications to those patients where efficacy has been shown.

This research was published in the Drug Science, Policy and Law Journal the definitive source of evidence-based information and comment for academics, scientists, policymakers, frontline workers and the general public on drugs and related issues

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