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Clinical trial shows marijuana-derived treatment reduces seizures

When a baby or child has a serious illness like epilepsy, parents may feel helpless because they cannot predict the timing of the next seizure. Infants and toddlers cannot stay in a safety bubble, so they frequently spend their waking hours wearing a helmet. A new prescription medication could provide help.

What causes epilepsy in the first place? Birth injuries related to low oxygen levels during a complicated birth are one. Another common cause is a head injury sustained during an auto accident. To reduce these injuries in young children California now requires toddlers to stay rear facing in their car seats until age two.

Looking for solutions

Existing drugs do not adequately help a significant number of the 500,000 American children with epilepsy. Parents of these children are desperate for new treatments.

Some of these families have even moved to Colorado for easier access to a strain of medical marijuana - Charlotte's Web - that controls seizures.

An experimental drug could be covered by insurers

For families who cannot easily relocate to Colorado, good news came earlier this month. GW Pharmaceuticals announced its experimental drug derived from marijuana (containing only cannabidiol without a marijuana "high") reduced epileptic seizures in a clinical trial.

If the drug, Epidiolex, receives regulatory approval it would be the first U.S. prescription drug extracted from marijuana.

By undergoing a rigorous vetting process, patients could rely on consistency. Medical marijuana products currently sold at dispensaries have not been well regulated. Studies have recently found that many do not contain the claimed amount of the ingredients on the label. The monthly cost of the new prescription drug would run between $2,500 and $5,000 per month. This is more expensive than most of the medical marijuana treatments, but there is a good chance it will be covered by insurance.

When a birth injury or accident causes an injury, the attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse will fight to ensure your family receives adequate compensation to cover available treatments and medications. We have represented families caring for infants with epilepsy. Find out more; schedule a free consultation by calling 212-983-3000.

Source: New York Times, "Marijuana-Based Drug Found to Reduce Epileptic Seizures," Andrew Pollack, Mar. 14, 2016

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