US Epilepsy Foundation calls for wider access to cannabis-derived drugs

Posted Feb 25 2014 in Other treatments

According to a major US charity, “nothing should stand in the way” of potentially life-saving treatment for epilepsy – including drugs derived from the cannabis plant.

In a statement issued last week (February 21st), the Epilepsy Foundation made an impassioned call for wider access to chemical compounds like cannabidiol, which has been identified as a potent anticonvulsant in animal models.

Laws governing medical cannabis in the US vary from state to state, leading the non-profit to comment: “An end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code.”

“If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now – not in five years or ten years,” the statement said.

The Epilepsy Foundation added many families faced “terrible decisions” due to state laws, which it claimed could force some patients and carers to uproot and move across the country – simply for access to cannabidiol.

Additionally, the charity decried the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for not lifting restrictions that impact further clinical trials and research into medical cannabis as an epilepsy treatment pathway.

It outlined four steps it will be taking to support wider access to these therapies, including lobbying the DEA to change these rules. The Epilepsy Foundation said it would also push for changes to state laws, as well as call on states that already allow medical marijuana to add epilepsy to their indications.

Finally, it said it plans to continue to support research into multiple forms of cannabis and seizures.

According to the non-profit, some 2.3 million people in the US live with epilepsy, of whom one million are unable to control their seizures using widely available antiepileptic drugs.

While some of the latter group see a reduction in seizure frequency after surgery or non-drug treatments, such as dietary therapies, others remain unable to keep the neurological condition under control – risking serious injuries and in some cases loss of life.

Posted by Bob Jones

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