A syrup made from the cannabis-derived compound cannabidiol should be approved for use in the United States to treat childhood seizures, an advisory group to federal regulators said.
If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration follows the recommendation of the FDA panel, GW Pharmaceuticals’ syrup would become the first drug derived from cannabis to win federal approval in the U.S., the Associated Press reported. The drug doesn’t contain THC, the compound in marijuana that produces a “high.”
British drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals is seeking permission to sell the medication, called Epidiolex, for rare, hard-to-treat seizures in children. FDSA approval would limit the treatment to a small group of epilepsy patients, but doctors would have the option to prescribe it for other uses.
In three studies of the drug, children with two rare types of epilepsy had significantly fewer seizures, the advisory group said. The results were promising, despite a potential for a risk of liver damage.
“This is clearly a breakthrough drug for an awful disease,” panel member Dr. John Mendelson, of the Friends Research Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, told the AP.
The FDA is expected to make a decision by late June.
CBD is the same ingredient that is sold relatively widely around the nation and online in oils as a treatment for a variety of other conditions. The legal status of CBD in states that haven’t legalized medical marijuana, however, falls in a gray area.