Cognitive functioning following long-term cannabidiol use in adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

“Cognitive dysfunction is a common comorbidity in adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE).

Recently, cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated efficacy in epilepsy treatment. However, our understanding of CBD’s cognitive effects in epilepsy is limited.

We examined long-term cognitive effects of CBD in adults with TRE as part of an ongoing prospective, open-label safety study.

Longitudinal analysis revealed no significant group change across the two global composite scales. Of the seven individual cognitive tests, none changed significantly over time. No correlation was found between the cognitive change scores and CBD dose (all P’s ≥; 0.2). Change in cognitive test performance was not associated change in seizure severity rating.

These findings are encouraging and indicate that long-term administration of pharmaceutical grade CBD is overall cognitively well-tolerated in adults with TRE.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31220785

https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(18)30931-4/fulltext

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Investigating the Therapeutic Mechanism of Cannabidiol in a Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Call (iPSC)-Based Cellular Model of Dravet Syndrome.

Current Issue

“Dravet syndrome is an infantile epileptic encephalopathy primarily caused by loss-of-function variants of the gene SCN1A Standard treatment regimens have very limited efficacy to combat the life-threatening seizures in Dravet syndrome or the behavioral-cognitive comorbidities of the disease. Recently there has been encouraging progress in developing new treatments for this disorder.

One of the clinical advances is cannabidiol (CBD), a compound naturally found in cannabis and shown to further reduce convulsive seizures in patients when used together with existing drug regimens. Like many other natural products, the exact therapeutic mechanism of CBD remains undefined.

Previously we have established a human cellular model of Dravet syndrome by differentiating patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into telencephalic inhibitory and excitatory neurons. Here we have applied this model to investigate the antiepileptic mechanism(s) of CBD at the cellular level.

We first determined the effect of escalating the concentrations of CBD on neuronal excitability, using primary culture of rat cortical neurons. We found modulatory effects on excitability at submicromolar concentrations and toxic effects at high concentrations (15 µM). We then tested CBD at 50 nM, a concentration that corresponds to the estimated human clinical exposure, in telencephalic neurons derived from a patient iPSC line and control cell line H9. This 50 nM of CBD increased the excitability of inhibitory neurons but decreased the excitability of excitatory neurons, without changing the amplitude of sodium currents in either cell type.

Our findings suggest a cell type-dependent mechanism for the therapeutic action of CBD in Dravet syndrome that is independent of sodium channel activity.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31186344

http://symposium.cshlp.org/content/early/2019/06/11/sqb.2018.83.038174

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Purified Cannabidiol for Treatment of Refractory Epilepsies in Pediatric Patients with Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy.

“A pharmaceutical grade formulation of cannabidiol (CBD) has been approved for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome; however, this formulation is not yet available to patients outside the USA. In addition, CBD is thought to have broad anti-seizure properties that may be beneficial for other types of intractable epilepsy.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of artisanal medical CBD oil in patients with developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) at the tertiary epilepsy center of Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome, Italy.

RESULTS:

Twenty-nine patients were enrolled in this study (41.4% male). The mean duration of exposure to artisanal CBD was 11.2 months [range 6-25 months; standard deviation (SD) ± 4.4 months]. Mean age at study enrollment was 9.3 years (range 1.9-16.3 years; SD ± 4.7 years). Eleven out of 29 patients (37.9%) had a ≥ 50% improvement in seizure frequency; one patient became seizure free. None of the patients reported worsening seizure frequency; however, 18 patients (62.1%) experienced no beneficial effect regarding seizure frequency. Adverse effects were reported in seven patients (24.14%), most commonly somnolence, decreased appetite and diarrhea. Adverse events were mild and transient, and no dose modification of CBD or other AEDs was required.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data suggest that CBD may have beneficial effects in patients with DEE and an acceptable safety profile. Placebo-controlled randomized trials should be conducted to formally assess the safety and efficacy of CBD in patients with DEE.”

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Medical Marijuana in the Pediatric Population With Epilepsy—What You Should Know

Journal of Pediatric Health Care Home

“This article discusses the controversial but promising topic of medical marijuana (MM) use in the pediatric population with epilepsy. Included is the importance of MM throughout history, the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, and a literature review that provides anecdotal evidence of the positive effect MM has on children suffering from seizures. From this literature review, dosage for treatment and management is provided. Also discussed is the recent FDA-approved pharmaceutical grade CBD product, Epidiolex, for treatment of two pediatric-onset seizure syndromes, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet. Clinical implications regarding adverse side effects of MM use are also discussed. The aim of this article is to arm providers with contemporary knowledge on the risks and benefits of MM use in the pediatric population with epilepsy, which may boost their skills and confidence in educating and advocating for children with seizures. This novel, ever-changing medication is in the forefront of history and the news, making this topic especially important for review.”

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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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