Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Efficacy and Safety in Epilepsy.

Pediatric Neurology

“Several new antiepileptic medicines became available for clinical use in the last two decades. However, the prognosis of epilepsy remains unchanged, with approximately one-third of patients continuing to have drug-resistant seizures. Because many of these patients are not candidates for curative epilepsy surgery, there is a need for new seizure medicines with better efficacy and safety profile.

Recently, social media and public pressure sparked a renewed interest in cannabinoids, which had been used for epilepsy since ancient times. However, physicians have significant difficulty prescribing cannabinoids freely because of the paucity of sound scientific studies.

Among the two most common cannabinoids, cannabidiol has better antiepileptic potential than tetrahydrocannabinol. The exact antiepileptic mechanism of cannabidiol is currently not known, but it modulates a number of endogenous systems and may have a novel anticonvulsant effect. However, it has broad drug-drug interactions with several agents, including inducer and inhibitor of CYP3A4 or CYP2C19. Cannabidiol can cause liver enzyme elevation, especially when co-administered with valproate.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol oil for two childhood-onset catastrophic epilepsies: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

The Drug Enforcement Agency also reclassified this product as a schedule V agent. However, other cannabidiol products remain as a schedule I substance and are primarily used without regulation. Additionally, the FDA-approved pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol oil is expensive, and insurance companies might approve this only for the designated indications.

In despair, many individuals may resort to unregulated medical cannabis products in an attempt to control seizures. Rather than spontaneous treatment without medical supervision, adequate medical oversight is indicated to monitor and manage the proper dose, side effects, validity of the product, and drug-drug interactions.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31053391

https://www.pedneur.com/article/S0887-8994(18)31168-8/fulltext

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Long-term safety and efficacy of cannabidiol in children and adults with treatment resistant Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome: Expanded access program results.

Epilepsy Research

“Since 2014, patients with severe treatment-resistant epilepsies (TREs) have been receiving add-on cannabidiol (CBD) in an ongoing, expanded access program (EAP), which closely reflects clinical practice.

We conducted an interim analysis of long-term efficacy and tolerability in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) or Dravet syndrome (DS) who received CBD treatment through December 2016.

CONCLUSIONS:

Results from this interim analysis support add-on CBD as an effective long-term treatment option in LGS or DS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31022635

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920121118305837?via%3Dihub

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Cost-effectiveness of cannabinoids for pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy: protocol for a systematic review of economic evaluations.

Image result for bmc systematic reviews

“Drug-resistant epilepsy negatively impacts the quality of life and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and high costs to the healthcare system. Cannabis-based treatments may be effective in reducing seizures in this population, but whether they are cost-effective is unclear. In this systematic review, we will search for cost-effectiveness analyses involving the treatment of pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy with cannabis-based products to inform decision-making by public healthcare payers about reimbursement of such products. We will also search for cost-effectiveness analyses of other pharmacologic treatments for pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy, as well as estimates of healthcare resource use, costs, and utilities, for use in a subsequent cost-utility analysis to address this decision problem.

METHODS:

We will search the published and gray literature for economic evaluations of cannabis-based products and other pharmacologic treatments for pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy, as well as resource utilization and utility studies. Two independent reviewers will screen the title and abstract of each identified record and the full-text version of any study deemed potentially relevant. Study and population characteristics, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), as well as total costs and benefits, will be extracted, and quality will be assessed by use of the Drummond and CHEERS checklists; context-specific issues will also be considered. From model-based cost-utility and cost-effectiveness analyses, we will extract and summarize the model structure, including health states, time horizon, and cycle length. From resource utilization studies, we will extract data about the frequency of resource use (e.g., neurology visits, emergency department visits, admissions to hospital). From utility studies, we will extract the utility for each health state, the source of the preferences (e.g., child, parent, patient, general public), and the method of elicitation.

DISCUSSION:

Drug-resistant epilepsy in children is associated with important costs to the healthcare system, and decision-makers require high-quality evidence on which to base reimbursement decisions. The results of this review will be useful to both decision-makers considering the decision problem of whether to reimburse cannabis-based products through public formularies and to analysts conducting studies in this area.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30917869

https://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13643-019-0990-z

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Don’t Fear the Reefer-Evidence Mounts for Plant-Based Cannabidiol as Treatment for Epilepsy.

SAGE Journals

“Cannabidiol has been used for treatment-resistant seizures in patients with severe early-onset epilepsy. We investigated the efficacy and safety of cannabidiol added to a regimen of conventional antiepileptic medication to treat drop seizures in patients with the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe developmental epileptic encephalopathy.

METHODS:

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted at 30 clinical centers, we randomly assigned patients with the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (age range, 2-55 years) who had had 2 or more drop seizures per week during a 28-day baseline period to receive cannabidiol oral solution at a dose of 20 mg/kg of body weight (20-mg cannabidiol group) or 10 mg/kg (10-mg cannabidiolgroup) or matching placebo, administered in 2 equally divided doses daily for 14 weeks. The primary outcome was the percentage change from baseline in the frequency of drop seizures (average per 28 days) during the treatment period.

RESULTS:

A total of 225 patients were enrolled; 76 patients were assigned to the 20-mg cannabidiol group, 73 to the 10-mg cannabidiol group, and 76 to the placebo group. During the 28-day baseline period, the median number of drop seizures was 85 in all trial groups combined. The median percentage reduction from baseline in drop seizure frequency during the treatment period was 41.9% in the 20-mg cannabidiol group, 37.2% in the 10-mg cannabidiol group, and 17.2% in the placebo group ( P = .005 for the 20-mg cannabidiol group vs placebo group, and P = .002 for the 10-mg cannabidiol group vs placebo group). The most common adverse events among the patients in the cannabidiol groups were somnolence, decreased appetite, and diarrhea; these events occurred more frequently in the higher dose group. Six patients in the 20-mg cannabidiol group and 1 patient in the 10-mg cannabidiol group discontinued the trial medication because of adverse events and were withdrawn from the trial. Fourteen patients who received cannabidiol (9%) had elevated liver aminotransferase concentrations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among children and adults with the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, the addition of cannabidiol at a dose of 10 or 20 mg/kg/d to a conventional antiepileptic regimen resulted in greater reductions in the frequency of drop seizures than placebo. Adverse events with cannabidiol included elevated liver aminotransferase concentrations. (Funded by GW Pharmaceuticals; GWPCARE3 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02224560.) Long-Term Safety and Treatment Effects of Cannabidiol in Children and Adults With Treatment-Resistant Epilepsies: Expanded Access Program Results Szaflarski JP, Bebin EM, Comi AM, et al; CBD EAP Study Group. Epilepsia. 2018;59(8):1540-1548.

OBJECTIVE:

Since 2014, cannabidiol (CBD) has been administered to patients with treatment-resistant epilepsies (TREs) in an ongoing expanded access program (EAP). We report interim results on the safety and efficacy of CBD in EAP patients treated through December 2016.

METHODS:

Twenty-five US-based EAP sites enrolling patients with TRE taking stable doses of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) at baseline were included. During the 4-week baseline period, parents/caregivers kept diaries of all countable seizure types. Patients received oral CBD starting at 2 to 10 mg/kg/d, titrated to a maximum dose of 25 to 50 mg/kg/d. Patient visits were every 2 to 4 weeks through 16 weeks and every 2 to 12 weeks thereafter. Efficacy end points included the percentage change from baseline in median monthly convulsive and total seizure frequency and percentage of patients with ≥50%, ≥75%, and 100% reductions in seizures versus baseline. Data were analyzed descriptively for the efficacy analysis set and using the last-observation-carried-forward method to account for missing data. Adverse events (AEs) were documented at each visit.

RESULTS:

Of 607 patients in the safety data set, 146 (24%) withdrew; the most common reasons were lack of efficacy (89 [15%]) and AEs (32 [5%]). Mean age was 13 years (range, 0.4-62). Median number of concomitant AEDs was 3 (range, 0-10). Median CBD dose was 25 mg/kg/d; median treatment duration was 48 weeks. Add-on CBD reduced median monthly convulsive seizures by 51% and total seizures by 48% at 12 weeks; reductions were similar through 96 weeks. Proportion of patients with ≥50%, ≥75%, and 100% reductions in convulsive seizures were 52%, 31%, and 11%, respectively, at 12 weeks, with similar rates through 96 weeks. Cannabidiol was generally well tolerated; most common AEs were diarrhea (29%) and somnolence (22%).

SIGNIFICANCE:

Results from this ongoing EAP support previous observational and clinical trial data, showing that add-on CBD may be an efficacious long-term treatment option for TRE. Randomized, Dose-Ranging Safety Trial of Cannabidiol in Dravet Syndrome Devinsky O, Patel AD, Thiele EA, et al; GWPCARE1 Part A Study Group. Neurology. 2018;90(14):e1204-e1211.

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the safety and preliminary pharmacokinetics of a pharmaceutical formulation of purified cannabidiol (CBD) in children with Dravet syndrome.

METHODS:

Patients aged 4 to 10 years were randomized 4:1 to CBD (5, 10, or 20 mg/kg/d) or placebo taken twice daily. The double-blind trial comprised 4-week baseline, 3-week treatment (including titration), 10-day taper, and 4-week follow-up periods. Completers could continue in an open-label extension. Multiple pharmacokinetic blood samples were taken on the first day of dosing and at end of treatment for measurement of CBD, its metabolites 6-OH-CBD, 7-OH-CBD, and 7-COOH-CBD, and antiepileptic drugs (AEDs; clobazam and metabolite N-desmethylclobazam [N-CLB], valproate, levetiracetam, topiramate, and stiripentol). Safety assessments were clinical laboratory tests, physical examinations, vital signs, electrocardiograms, adverse events (AEs), seizure frequency, and suicidality.

RESULTS:

Thirty-four patients were randomized (10, 8, and 9 to the 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg/d CBD groups and 7 to placebo); 32 (94%) completed treatment. Exposure to CBD and its metabolites was dose proportional (AUC0-t). Cannabidiol did not affect concomitant AED levels, apart from an increase in N-CLB (except in patients taking stiripentol). The most common AEs on CBD were pyrexia, somnolence, decreased appetite, sedation, vomiting, ataxia, and abnormal behavior. Six patients taking CBD and valproate developed elevated transaminases; none met criteria for drug-induced liver injury and all recovered. No other clinically relevant safety signals were observed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Exposure to CBD and its metabolites increased proportionally with dose. An interaction with N-CLB was observed, likely related to CBD inhibition of cytochrome P450 subtype 2C19. Cannabidiol resulted in more AEs than placebo but was generally well tolerated.

CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE:

This study provides class I evidence that for children with Dravet syndrome, CBD resulted in more AEs than placebo but was generally well tolerated.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30955420

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1535759719835671

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Cannabidiol as adjunctive treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

“Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic disorders of the brain affecting around 70 million people worldwide. Treatment is mainly symptomatic, and most patients achieve long-term seizure control. Up to one-third of the affected subjects, however, are resistant to anticonvulsant therapy.

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS) are severe, refractory epilepsy syndromes with onset in early childhood. Currently available interventions fail to control seizures in most cases, and there remains the need to identify new treatments.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the first in a new class of antiepileptic drugs. It is a major chemical of the cannabis plant, which has antiseizure properties in absence of psychoactive effects.

This article provides a critical review of the pharmacology of CBD and the most recent clinical studies that evaluated its efficacy and safety as adjunctive treatment of seizures associated with LGS and DS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30938373

https://journals.prous.com/journals/servlet/xmlxsl/pk_journals.xml_summary_pr?p_JournalId=4&p_RefId=2909248&p_IsPs=N

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Safety, efficacy, and mechanisms of action of cannabinoids in neurological disorders.

The Lancet Neurology

“In the past two decades, there has been an increasing interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, pain, and neurodegenerative diseases. Cannabis-based treatments for pain and spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis have been approved in some countries. Randomised controlled trials of plant-derived cannabidiol for treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two severe childhood-onset epilepsies, provide evidence of anti-seizure effects. Despite positive results in these two severe epilepsy syndromes, further studies are needed to determine if the anti-seizure effects of cannabidiol extend to other forms of epilepsy, to overcome pharmacokinetic challenges with oral cannabinoids, and to uncover the exact mechanisms by which cannabidiol or other exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids exert their therapeutic effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30910443

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(19)30032-8/fulltext

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Cannabis for refractory epilepsy in children: A review focusing on CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder.

Epilepsy Research

“Severe paediatric epilepsies such as CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder (CDD) are extremely debilitating, largely due to the early-onset and refractory nature of the seizures. Existing treatment options are often ineffective and associated with a host of adverse effects, causing those that are affected to seek alternative treatments.

Cannabis based products have attracted significant attention over recent years, primarily driven by reports of miraculous cures and a renewed public preference for ‘natural’ therapies, thus placing intense pressure on health professionals and the government for regulatory change.

This study provides a comprehensive overview of the potential role for cannabis in the treatment of CDD. Key areas discussed include the history, mechanism of action, efficacy and safety of cannabis based preparations as well as the burden related to CDD.

The evidence supports the use of cannabinoids, especially cannabidiol, in similar forms of refractory epilepsy including Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Evidence for cannabinoids specifically in CDD is limited but growing, with multiple anecdotal reports and an open-label trial showing cannabidiol to be associated with a significant reduction in seizure activity.

This review provides the first comprehensive overview of the potential role for cannabis based preparations in the treatment of CDD and provides justification for further clinical and observational research.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30771550

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920121118306107?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoid therapy in epilepsy.

 Image result for curr opin neurol“To review the history, pharmacology, and clinical science of cannabidiol (CBD) in the treatment of epilepsy.

RECENT FINDINGS:

Phase III randomized controlled trials and prospective open label trials have provided efficacy and safety data for the use of CBD in pediatric onset severe epilepsies. The product that was studied in the vast majority of these published trials, Epidiolex (>99% of CBD and <0.10% Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); GW pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, UK), has now been FDA approved based on this published data.

SUMMARY:

Identification of CBD, Δ9-THC, and the endocannabinoid system in the mid-20th century has led to advancement of cannabis-based therapies for epilepsy. Based on clinical trial data, Epidiolex is the first CBD medication approved by a national regulatory agency (US Food and Drug Administration for Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndrome; European Medicines Agency for Lennox Gastaut syndrome). Approval of CBD as a treatment for these rare and severe pediatric-onset epilepsy syndromes is an important milestone, but the complete spectrum of use of cannabis-derived products, and the use of CBD for other epilepsy syndromes remains to be determined.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30676535

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Epidiolex (Cannabidiol): A New Hope for Patients With Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes.

 SAGE Journals

“OBJECTIVE: To review the efficacy, safety, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of pure, plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD; Epidiolex) in the treatment of Dravet syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).

DATA SYNTHESIS: Pure, plant-based CBD is a pharmaceutical grade extract that exhibits clinically significant antiseizure properties, with a hypothesized multimodal mechanism of action. In the GWPCARE trial series, CBD displayed superior efficacy in reducing key seizure frequencies (convulsive seizures in DS; drop seizures in LGS) by 17% to 23% compared with placebo as adjunctive therapy to standard antiepileptic drugs in patients 2 years of age and older. Common adverse effects were somnolence, diarrhea, and elevated hepatic transaminases. Noteworthy drug-drug interactions included clobazam, valproates, and significant inducers/inhibitors of CYP2C19 and 3A4 enzymes.

Relevance to Patient Care and Clinical Practice: A discussion regarding CBD dosing, administration, adverse effects, monitoring parameters, and interactions is provided to guide clinicians. CBD offers patients with DS and LGS a new treatment option for refractory seizures.

CONCLUSION:

This is the first cannabis-derived medication with approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. This CBD formulation significantly reduces seizures as an adjunct to standard antiepileptic therapies in patients ≥2 years old with DS and LGS and is well tolerated.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30616356

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1060028018822124?journalCode=aopd

“Why marijuana is headed for the mainstream. The credibility of cannabis as a source of a legitimate pharmaceutical ingredient in prescription medications took a major step forward in 2018 when the FDA approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) for two types of severe seizures. Epidiolex was a stellar candidate for approval. It reduced convulsive seizures by about 40% and has a good safety profile.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30620324

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Long-term cannabidiol treatment in patients with Dravet syndrome: An open-label extension trial.

Epilepsia banner

“Add-on cannabidiol (CBD) significantly reduced seizures associated with Dravet syndrome (DS) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial: GWPCARE1 Part B (NCT02091375). Patients who completed GWPCARE1 Part A (NCT02091206) or Part B, or a second placebo-controlled trial, GWPCARE2 (NCT02224703), were invited to enroll in a long-term open-label extension trial, GWPCARE5 (NCT02224573). We present an interim analysis of the safety, efficacy, and patient-reported outcomes from GWPCARE5.

METHODS:

Patients received a pharmaceutical formulation of highly purified CBD in oral solution (100 mg/mL), titrated from 2.5 to 20 mg/kg/d over a 2-week period, with their existing medications. Based on response and tolerance, CBD could be reduced or increased up to 30 mg/kg/d.

RESULTS:

By November 2016, a total of 278 patients had completed the original randomized trials, and 264 (95%) enrolled in this open-label extension. Median treatment duration was 274 days (range 1-512) with a mean modal dose of 21 mg/kg/d, and patients received a median of 3 concomitant antiepileptic medications. Adverse events (AEs) occurred in 93.2% of patients and were mostly mild (36.7%) or moderate (39.0%). Commonly reported AEs were diarrhea (34.5%), pyrexia (27.3%), decreased appetite (25.4%), and somnolence (24.6%). Seventeen patients (6.4%) discontinued due to AEs. Twenty-two of the 128 patients from GWPCARE1 (17.2%), all taking valproic acid, had liver transaminase elevations ≥3 times the upper limit of normal. In patients from GWPCARE1 Part B, the median reduction from baseline in monthly seizure frequency assessed in 12-week periods up to week 48 ranged from 38% to 44% for convulsive seizures and 39% to 51% for total seizures. After 48 weeks of treatment, 85% of patients/caregivers reported improvement in the patient’s overall condition on the Subject/Caregiver Global Impression of Change scale.

SIGNIFICANCE:

This trial shows that long-term CBD treatment had an acceptable safety profile and led to sustained, clinically meaningful reductions in seizure frequency in patients with treatment-resistant DS.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30582156

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/epi.14628

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