Cannabis-based epilepsy drug Epidyolex approved for use

Epidyolex has been approved to treat children with severe epilepsy in the UK.

New guidelines from the drugs advisory body NICE mean that Epidyolex can now be prescribed by doctors on the NHS. The cannabis-based epilepsy drug can be prescribed for children in the UK diagnosed with Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – the most severe forms of epilepsy, which cause life threatening seizures. The story, reported on BBC health news, explains trials have shown the effectiveness of treating seizures with the medicinal cannabis oil. Prof Helen Cross from Great Ormond Street Hospital told the BBC:  "Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndromes are both complex difficult epilepsies with limited effective treatment options and this gives patients another option… that could make a difference to care". In August this year guidelines released by NICE around the use of cannabis-based medicinal products concluded that both NHS England and NICE still needed to see more research as the treatment was deemed to not be cost-effective.  The UK manufacturer of Epidyolex has since agreed to supply the NHS with Epidyolex at a lower cost. NICE guidelines should also extend to Wales and Northern Ireland. The drug may be available in Scotland next year. You can read the background to the approval in our previous story. BBC Horizon also covered the use of medicinal cannabis in a programme that aired in August.
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