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Marijuana-based drug found to reduce epileptic seizures

GW Pharmaceuticals on Monday announced that an experimental drug derived from marijuana has succeeded in reducing epileptic seizures.

The company said the result was seen in the first major clinical trial of the drug. Experts maintain that the finding that could lend credence to the medical-marijuana movement.

According to GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex succeeded in achieving the main goal of the trial, reducing convulsive seizures when compared with a placebo in patients with Dravet syndrome, which is very rare form of epilepsy.

If Epidiolex manages to win approval from the FDA, it would become the first prescription drug in the United States to be extracted from marijuana.

It is notable that pressure from parents of epileptic children has forced many states to pass or consider legislation aimed at making it easier to obtain marijuana-based products.

"I'm very proud and happy about this study because it is science - we did things the way they should be done," the study's lead investigator, Dr. Orrin Devinsky of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Langone Medical Center, said in an interview. "I would strongly advocate that in the United States we need to do systematic assessments of medical marijuana."

"The results of this Epidiolex pivotal trial are important and exciting, as they represent the first placebo-controlled evidence to support the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical cannabidiol in children with Dravet syndrome," Devinsky added.

Epidiolex contains almost pure cannabidiol, a component of marijuana and is given as a child-friendly syrup. It is also being tested in Phase III trials for another rare type of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.