“Cannabidiol should not be viewed as a panacea for epilepsy, but for patients with especially severe forms who have not responded to numerous medications, these results provide hope that we may soon have another treatment option,” says lead investigator Orrin Devinsky, MD, professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We still need more research, but this new trial provides more evidence than we have ever had of cannabidiol’s effectiveness as a medication for treatment-resistant epilepsy.”
Dr. Orrin Devinsky and a family who participated in the trial that examined cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures are interviewed about the study.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound in the cannabis plant that does not contain psychoactive properties that induce a high.
For the study, 120 children and adolescents with Dravet syndrome between the ages of 2 and 18 years were randomized across 23 sites in the United States and Europe to receive either CBD 20 mg/kg or placebo, added to their existing treatment over a 14-week period. Seizure frequency was tracked for one month prior to the study for baseline readings and during the course of the study.
Specifically, seizure frequency dropped 39 percent in the CBD-treated group from a median of nearly 12 convulsive seizures per month before the study to about six; three patients’ seizures stopped entirely. In the placebo group, there was a 13 percent reduction in seizures from about 15 monthly seizures to 14. The difference in the degree of seizure reduction between the CBD group and the placebo group was both statistically significant and clinically consistent.