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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Emerging drugs for the treatment of Dravet syndrome.

Publication Cover

“Dravet syndrome (DS) is an early-onset genetic developmental epileptic encephalopathy characterized by multiple seizure types which are refractory to antiseizure medication. There is an unmet need for effective and tolerable drugs to control different seizure types in DS types, with the aim of improving quality of life and preventing neurological impairment.

Areas covered: Narrative review of efficacy and tolerability of fenfluramine, cannabidiol (CBD), verapamil and modulators of serotonin signaling pathways (lorcaserin or trazodone) in the treatment of DS.

Expert Opinion/Commentary: A recent large randomized controlled-trial has shown that CBD is effective in the treatment of DS; preliminary data from the placebo-controlled trial on fenfluramine are also promising. Further studies are definitely required to evaluate the role of verapamil and modulators of serotonin signaling in DS. At present, drugs used to treat seizures in DS treat the symptoms of epilepsy rather than its cause(s). Future research should focus on elucidating the natural history of DS and whether appropriate treatment can have a beneficial impact on its disease course. A multidisciplinary, individualized approach to care of DS patients is required.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30482063

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14728214.2018.1552937?journalCode=iemd20

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Long-Term Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of Cannabidiol in Children with Refractory Epilepsy: Results from an Expanded Access Program in the US.

“Purified cannabidiol is a new antiepileptic drug that has recently been approved for use in patients with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, but most published studies have not extended beyond 12-16 weeks.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term safety, tolerability, and efficacy of cannabidiol in children with epilepsy.

 

Twenty-six children were enrolled. Most had genetic epilepsies with daily or weekly seizures and multiple seizure types. All were refractory to prior antiepileptic drugs (range 4-11, mean 7), and were taking two antiepileptic drugs on average. Duration of therapy ranged from 4 to 53 months (mean 21 months). Adverse events were reported in 21 patients (80.8%), including reduced appetite in ten (38.4%), diarrhea in nine (34.6%), and weight loss in eight (30.7%). Four (15.4%) had changes in antiepileptic drug concentrations and three had elevated aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels when cannabidiol was administered together with valproate. Serious adverse events, reported in six patients (23.1%), included status epilepticus in three, catatonia in two, and hypoalbuminemia in one. Fifteen patients (57.7%) discontinued cannabidiol for lack of efficacy, one because of status epilepticus, and one for severe weight loss. The retention rate declined rapidly in the first 6 months and more gradually thereafter. At 24 months, the number of patients continuing cannabidiol as adjunctive therapy was nine of the original 26 (34.6%). Of these patients, seven (26.9%) had a sustained > 50% reduction in motor seizures, including three (11.5%) who remain seizure free.

CONCLUSION:

Over a 4-year period, cannabidiol was effective in 26.9% of children with otherwise refractory epilepsy. It was well tolerated in about 20% of patients, but 80.8% had adverse events, including 23.1% with serious adverse events. Decreased appetite and diarrhea were frequent along with weight loss that became evident only later in the treatment.”

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Medical cannabis: A needs analysis for people with epilepsy.

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

“Medical cannabis may be effective treatment for refractory epilepsy.

It is timely to seek users’ and potential users’ opinions in regard to its place in the management of epilepsy.

RESULTS:

People with epilepsy (33/71) and carers (38/71) participated. Fifty-four participants indicated no experience with medical cannabis, although 35, mainly with inadequate response to prescription medicines, were willing to ask for a prescription. Concerns included difficulty accessing cannabis and high cost of this treatment. Tablets/capsules was the most acceptable dosage form for development.

CONCLUSION:

These findings suggest wide interest in trialling medical cannabis in individual cases of refractory epilepsy, despite the developing body of literature and some concerns about cost and procurement.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30396625

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388118302354?via%3Dihub

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Efficacy of cannabinoids in paediatric epilepsy.

Developmental Medicine &amp; Child Neurology banner

“There are hundreds of compounds found in the marijuana plant, each contributing differently to the antiepileptic and psychiatric effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) has the most evidence of antiepileptic efficacy and does not have the psychoactive effects of ∆9 -tetrahydrocannabinol. CBD does not act via cannabinoid receptors and its antiepileptic mechanism of action is unknown. Despite considerable community interest in the use of CBD for paediatric epilepsy, there has been little evidence for its use apart from anecdotal reports, until the last year. Three randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome found that CBD produced a 38% to 41% median reduction in all seizures compared to 13% to 19% on placebo. Similarly, CBD resulted in a 39% to 46% responder rate (50% convulsive or drop-seizure reduction) compared to 14% to 27% on placebo. CBD was well tolerated; however, sedation, diarrhoea, and decreased appetite were frequent. CBD shows similar efficacy to established antiepileptic drugs. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Cannabidiol (CBD) shows similar efficacy in the severe paediatric epilepsies to other antiepileptic drugs. Careful down-titration of benzodiazepines is essential to minimize sedation with adjunctive CBD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30402932

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dmcn.14087

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Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol in Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

 Image result for drugs journal“Approximately one-third of patients with epilepsy presents seizures despite adequate treatment. Hence, there is the need to search for new therapeutic options. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major chemical component of the resin of Cannabis sativa plant, most commonly known as marijuana. The anti-seizure properties of CBD do not relate to the direct action on cannabinoid receptors, but are mediated by a multitude of mechanisms that include the agonist and antagonist effects on ionic channels, neurotransmitter transporters, and multiple 7-transmembrane receptors. In contrast to tetra-hydrocannabinol, CBD lacks psychoactive properties, does not produce euphoric or intrusive side effects, and is largely devoid of abuse liability.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of the study was to estimate the efficacy and safety of CBD as adjunctive treatment in patients with epilepsy using meta-analytical techniques.

METHODS:

Randomized, placebo-controlled, single- or double-blinded add-on trials of oral CBD in patients with uncontrolled epilepsy were identified. Main outcomes included the percentage change and the proportion of patients with ≥ 50% reduction in monthly seizure frequency during the treatment period and the incidence of treatment withdrawal and adverse events (AEs).

RESULTS:

Four trials involving 550 patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS) were included. The pooled average difference in change in seizure frequency during the treatment period resulted 19.5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 8.1-31.0; p = 0.001] percentage points between the CBD 10 mg and placebo groups and 19.9 (95% CI 11.8-28.1; p < 0.001) percentage points between the CBD 20 mg and placebo arms, in favor of CBD. The reduction in all-types seizure frequency by at least 50% occurred in 37.2% of the patients in the CBD 20 mg group and 21.2% of the placebo-treated participants [risk ratio (RR) 1.76, 95% CI 1.07-2.88; p = 0.025]. Across the trials, drug withdrawal for any reason occurred in 11.1% and 2.6% of participants receiving CBD and placebo, respectively (RR 3.54, 95% CI 1.55-8.12; p = 0.003) [Chi squared = 2.53, degrees of freedom (df) = 3, p = 0.506; I2 = 0.0%]. The RRs to discontinue treatment were 1.45 (95% CI 0.28-7.41; p = 0.657) and 4.20 (95% CI 1.82-9.68; p = 0.001) for CBD at the doses of 10 and 20 mg/kg/day, respectively, in comparison to placebo. Treatment was discontinued due to AEs in 8.9% and 1.8% of patients in the active and control arms, respectively (RR 5.59, 95% CI 1.87-16.73; p = 0.002). The corresponding RRs for CBD at the doses of 10 and 20 mg/kg/day were 1.66 (95% CI 0.22-12.86; p = 0.626) and 6.89 (95% CI 2.28-20.80; p = 0.001). AEs occurred in 87.9% and 72.2% of patients treated with CBD and placebo (RR 1.22, 95% CI 1.11-1.33; p < 0.001). AEs significantly associated with CBD were somnolence, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and increased serum aminotransferases.

CONCLUSIONS:

Adjunctive CBD in patients with LGS or DS experiencing seizures uncontrolled by concomitant anti-epileptic treatment regimens is associated with a greater reduction in seizure frequency and a higher rate of AEs than placebo.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30390221

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Abuse potential assessment of cannabidiol (CBD) in recreational polydrug users: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.

“Treatment with a highly purified oral solution of cannabidiol (CBD), derived from the plant Cannabis sativa L., demonstrated some evidence of central nervous system (CNS)-related adverse events in patients enrolled in phase 3 trials for treatment of childhood-onset epilepsy. Cannabidiol was categorized as a Schedule 1 substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration; therefore, it was important to test CBD for human abuse potential.

Administration of a therapeutic dose of CBD (750 mg) showed significantly low abuse potential in a highly sensitive population of polydrug users. Although high and supratherapeutic doses of CBD (1500 mg and 4500 mg, respectively) had detectable subjective effects compared with placebo; the effects were significantly lower than those observed with alprazolam and dronabinol.

The majority of adverse events reported during the trial were of mild or moderate severity; no serious adverse events or deaths were reported.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30286443

https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(18)30483-9/fulltext

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