THURSDAY, Dec. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Whole-plant medical cannabis seems effective and well tolerated for children with intractable epilepsy, according to a study published online Dec. 14 in the BMJ Paediatrics Open.

Rayyan Zafar, from DrugScience in London, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study using clinical data from caretakers and clinicians to examine the feasibility of using whole-plant cannabis medicines to treat seizures in children. Ten children, ages 18 years or younger, with intractable epilepsies were recruited. Medicines were prescribed by clinicians in the National Health Service (NHS) and private medical practices; patients were treated with a range of whole-plant medical cannabis oils, with dosing regimens determined by clinicians. Throughout January to May 2021, follow-up calls were conducted to keep data recorded up to date.

The researchers observed an 86 percent reduction in seizure frequency across all 10 participants, with no significant adverse events. Following treatment with medical cannabis, use of antiepileptic drugs was reduced from an average of seven to one. To obtain these medicines through private prescriptions, significant financial costs of £874 per month were noted.

“We believe that our data on whole-plant medical cannabis in childhood-onset severe treatment-resistant epilepsy provides evidence to support its introduction into the NHS within current National Institute for Clinical and Healthcare Excellence prescribing guidelines,” the authors write. “Such a move would be hugely beneficial to the families, who in addition to having the psychological distress of looking after their chronically ill children, have also to cover the crippling financial burden of their medication.”

Drug Science receives an unrestricted educational grant from a consortium of medical cannabis companies to further its mission, which is the pursuit of an unbiased and scientific assessment of drugs regardless of their regulatory class; none of the authors would benefit from the wider prescription of medical cannabis in any form.

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