Epileptologist explains new FDA approved cannabis-based drug

Epileptologist explains new FDA approved cannabis-based drug

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The medical field is making progress for those with epilepsy. In February, patients with intractable epilepsy in Texas gained access to cannabidiol or CBD oil. As of Monday, some patients around the country with epilepsy can receive Epidiolex.

"It has been approved to treat patients with two very specific forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome," Northeast Texas Neurology epileptologist Dr. Gina Jetter said. "And typically, these are patients that are kids and have very severe forms of epilepsy."

The two syndromes can affect children as early as two or three years old. Patients usually have different types of seizure such as convulsions and atonic seizures.

"Typically, patients with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome will have maybe tens to hundreds of seizures a day," Jetter said.

This is the first medication approved by the FDA to treat Dravet syndrome, which affects almost 12,000 patients in the US.

In a statement, the FDA said "This is an important medical advance. But it's also important to note that this is not an approval of marijuana or all of its components."

Dr. Jetter thinks this approval could lead to further research into medicinal marijuana.

"We need really good studies that show does this medication work not only in epilepsy," Jetter said. "But in other neurological diseases and other diseases in general."

Epidiolex is not expected to be available until later this fall, but Jetter says she is looking forward to working with her patients and this new medication.

"What we are needing now are more drugs to help people," Jetter said. "Because we have a lot of people who are suffering and in pain and we need to be able to help them. And so, by classifying it and studying it, it's going to be really good."

Dr. Jetter says unlike the medication being offered to patients in Texas, Epidiolex will be covers through insurance since it's approved federally.

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