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Cannabis joins the medical mainstream

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A new treatment for epilepsy in children, which is based on the plant, is soon to get approval, and its manufacturer is scaling up production to meet the anticipated demand.

America`s drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, is expected to approve Epidolex (cannabidiol) by 2017 at the latest. It`s a liquid formulation of cannabidiol, which is derived from the plant.

Its manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals, already has a cannabis-based product approved to treat multiple sclerosis, although it has failed to win a licence in the US, and the company`s researchers are looking at cannabis-based therapies to treat autism, muscular dystrophy, glioma, ovarian and pancreatic cancer and schizophrenia.
It says that orders increased 20 times over 2015, and expects the demand to double in 2016.

Research into Epidolex is producing promising results. In one, 261 epileptic children were given Epidolex for 12 weeks; during that time, the rate of seizures dropped by 45 per cent on average, although half the participants reported a more than 50 per cent reduction in attacks, and 9 per cent of children said they were completely seizure-free.

(Source: proceedings of the American Epilepsy Society, December 7, 2015; Daily Telegraph, December 8, 2015)

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