Compound derived from marijuana interacts with antiepileptic drugs

New research published in Epilepsia, a journal of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), suggests that an investigational neurological treatment derived from cannabis may alter the blood levels of commonly used antiepileptic drugs. It is important for clinicians to consider such drug interactions during treatment of complex conditions.

Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound developed from the cannabis plant, is being studied as a potential anticonvulsant, and it has demonstrated effectiveness in animal models of epilepsy and in humans. An ongoing open label study (Expanded Access Program) conducted by investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is testing the potential of CBD as a therapy for children and adults with difficult to control epilepsy. The study includes 39 adults and 42 children, all of whom receive CBD.

Because all of the participants are also taking other seizure drugs while they are receiving the investigational therapy, investigators checked the blood levels of their other seizure drugs to see if they changed. “With any new potential seizure medication, it is important to know if drug interactions exist and if there are labs that should be monitored while taking a specific medication,” said lead author Tyler Gaston, MD.

Full story at Science Daily

Studies on Marijuana Extract for Children’s Epilepsy Suggest Treatment May Help Some

Several new studies on children with severe epilepsy who have been treated with the marijuana extract cannabidiol suggest some may be helped by the drug, NPR reports.

One study presented this week at the American Epilepsy Society meeting initially included 313 children from 16 epilepsy centers. Over three months, 16 percent of the children withdrew from the study because the cannabidiol was ineffective or had adverse effects.

Among the 261 children who stayed in the study, the number of seizures was reduced by about half on average, according to lead researcher Dr. Orrin Devinsky of New York University Langone Medical Center.

Some children continued to benefit from the treatment after the study ended. “In the subsequent periods, which are very encouraging, 9 percent of all patients and 13 percent of those with Dravet Syndrome epilepsy were seizure-free. Many have never been seizure-free before,” he says. Dravet syndrome is a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy.

Full story of marijuana extract for children with epilepsy at drugfree.org

U.S. Government Awards University of Mississippi $69 Million to Grow Marijuana

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) this week awarded the University of Mississippi $68.8 million to grow and analyze marijuana, Time reports. The university’s marijuana research lab has been the sole producer of federally legal marijuana since 1968.

The lab is planning to grow 30,000 plants, according to the magazine. NIDA requires a “secure and video monitored outdoor facility of approximately 12 acres” that could handle the “cultivation, growing, harvesting, analyzing, and storing of research grade cannabis,” according to a listing posted on a federal government website.

NIDA said it is interested in developing new methods for growing marijuana with a variety of levels of THC, the substance that creates a “high” effect. It also will grow marijuana with different levels of cannabidiol, which is being studied as a treatment for various medical disorders including epilepsy.

Full story of University of Mississippi and marijuana grant at drugfree.org