Researchers from the Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver performed a retrospective chart review of 75 children provided cannabis extracts. Authors reported that 57 percent of subjects showed some level of improvement in seizure control while 33 percent reported a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency.
Researchers also reported “improved behavior/alertness” in one-third of subjects and improved motor skills in ten percent of treated patients. Adverse events were reported in 44 percent of subjects, 13 percent of which reported increased seizure activity. Overall, however, authors concluded that the extracts were “well tolerated by children.”
Separate clinical trial results publicized last week at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology reported that the administration of a proprietary form of CBD (cannabidiol) extracts decreased seizure frequency by 54 percent over a 12-week period in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Survey data compiled by Stanford University in 2013 reported that the administration of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis decreased seizures in 16 of 19 patients with pediatric epilepsy.
Last February, the Epilepsy Foundation of America enacted a resolution in support of the “rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana.”
An abstract of the study, “Parental reporting of response to oral cannabis extracts for treatment of refractory epilepsy,” appears online here.
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Oral cannabis extracts (OCEs) have been used in the treatment of epilepsy; however, no studies demonstrate clear efficacy. We report on a cohort of pediatric patients with epilepsy who were given OCE and followed in a single tertiary epilepsy center.
A retrospective chart review of children and adolescents who were given OCE for treatment of their epilepsy was performed.
Seventy-five patients were identified of which 57% reported any improvement in seizure control and 33% reported a >50% reduction in seizures (responders). If the family had moved to CO for OCE treatment, the responder rate was 47% vs. 22% for children who already were in CO. The responder rate varied based on epilepsy syndrome: Dravet 23%, Doose 0%, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) 88.9%. The background EEG of the 8 responders where EEG data were available was not improved. Additional benefits reported included: improved behavior/alertness (33%), improved language (10%), and improved motor skills (10%). Adverse events (AEs) occurred in 44% of patients including increased seizures (13%) and somnolence/fatigue (12%). Rare adverse events included developmental regression, abnormal movements, status epilepticus requiring intubation, and death.
Our retrospective study of OCE use in pediatric patients with epilepsy demonstrates that some families reported patient improvement with treatment; however, we also found a variety of challenges and possible confounding factors in studying OCE retrospectively in an open-labeled fashion. We strongly support the need for controlled, blinded studies to evaluate the efficacy and safety of OCE for treatment of pediatric epilepsies using accurate seizure counts, formal neurocognitive assessments, as well as EEG as a biomarker. This study provides Class III evidence that OCE is well tolerated by children and adolescents with epilepsy.
Posted at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25845492