a) The Definition of Epidiolex
Epidiolex is an oral anti-epileptic prescription drug manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, based in UK. The drug is the first prescription containing Cannabidiol (CBD) to be on the shelves. It has no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is used for managing symptoms of two types of childhood epilepsy namely Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex was approved by the USA FDA (Food and Drug Administration) on 25th June 2018. The composition of Epidiolex includes cannabidiol (CBD) extracts. Epidiolex treats children who are at least 2 years old. Its effectiveness in treating children who are below the age of two is not well known.
The generic name of Epidiolex is “Cannabidiol Oral Solution” while its brand name is Epidiolex.
There were clinical trials on the drug which indicated that Epidiolex significantly reduces the number of seizures in patients with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.
The Composition of Epidiolex
Epidiolex is an anti-seizure drug and under classification with other anti-seizure drugs. CBD natural and not synthetic compounds are what GW Pharmaceuticals uses in making Epidiolex. The drug is colorless to yellow containing 100mg/ml of cannabidiol. Other ingredient s include sucralose, sesame seed oil, and strawberry flavor. Besides, it is gluten-free.
Other CBD Drugs
There are other prescription drugs containing CBD approved in the UK but not in the USA, they contain THC. Worth noting is that other CBD drugs which contain THC are synthetic, having synthetic versions of CBD. The drugs fall under Schedules II and Schedule III drugs classification in the USA because of having THC, which is psychoactive.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that is non-psychoactive, meaning that it is not a drug and it does not cause a high. Its extracts come from the leaves, flowers, and stalks of the industrial hemp plant. CBD makes up about 40% of the extracts of the hemp plant. Cannabidiol was discovered in 1940. Scientific researches to determine CBD’s ability to deal with other conditions including pain, anxiety, movement disorders among others are still on-going.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found naturally in cannabis plants. Actually, there are over 100 cannabinoids in the industrial hemp plant.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a form of acute epilepsy that starts when a patient is an infant or in their early childhood. Patients may have various types of seizures and may also have other delays and behavioral difficulties. The symptoms occur mostly when the patients are sleeping but sometimes when they are awake. It is a hard to treat the syndrome because it resists other anti-seizure drugs.
Dravet syndrome is a brain dysfunction that is lifelong. It is genetic and symptoms begin in a child’s first year of life. It is usually accompanied by development disability.
The Cost of Epidiolex
Epidiolex treatments are about $33,000. Without insurance, the cost is quite high. The good thing is that GW Pharmaceuticals is working with other stakeholders to come up with programs that can assist patients to cover the cost.
Side Effects of Using Epidiolex
Some patients may experience some side effects due to using this drug. Since this is a prescription drug, be sure to tell your doctor about all the other drugs you are using. Mention if you have any other condition like pregnancy or you are breastfeeding. The common side effects include diarrhea, rash, unusual tiredness, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, feeling sleepy, and jaundice. It is advisable that you avoid operating machinery and driving when you start using the drug. In addition, if you experience other symptoms that are unusual like feeling depressed, contact a healthcare provider immediately.
b) The History of Epidiolex
In the past, hemp was classified under Controlled Substances for fear of potential abuse. Epidiolex, on the other hand, was a Schedule I drug with heroin, cocaine and other drugs for fear of user abuse. Now, Epidiolex is in Schedule V, where other anti-seizure drugs are classified after it was approved by the FDA in the USA.
c) The Future of Epidiolex
Epidiolex is a prescription drug for managing two types of severe epilepsy namely Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The drug is an oral. In future, other versions of the drug, for example, injectables may be developed. Also, more research is being conducted on the drug with the possibility of using it to manage other conditions like Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.
Furthermore, Epidiolex is an approved drug in the USA and in the UK. Soon, other countries may also approve it as a prescription drug.
Besides that, there is an increase in the interest in CBD and hemp. In the past, there were about 16 companies doing cannabis research. The number has grown in the past five years or so to 40 and counting. Cannabis is being researched for its potential to cure a range of conditions including symptoms associated with cancer chemotherapy treatments.
Soon, with the number of research organizations increasing, the potential benefits of hemp will be realized and more drugs manufactured.
d) Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get access to Epidiolex?
It depends on where you live. If you live in the USA, Epidiolex is a prescription drug, therefore, it is different from other hemp derivatives. In this regard, see a qualified professional for a prescription of the drug.
What conditions does Epidiolex treat?
Epidiolex is an approved prescription drug for the treatment of two types of epilepsy, namely Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.
Will a patient get high from using Epidiolex?
A patient will not get high from using Epidiolex because it does not contain THC which is what causes a user to get high. The drug contains CBD which is medicinal.
What is the composition of Epidiolex?
Epidiolex is made from natural hemp extracts and not synthetic versions. Its main ingredient is cannabidiol. The good thing is that it is gluten-free and it is flavored.
How affordable is Epidiolex?
At the moment, the drug is quite expensive. The manufacturer is working with other partners to come up with programs that can help patients who are not insured, to meet the cost of buying the drug regularly.