It appears children in the Australian state of New South Wales with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy may be able to take advantage of a specific cannabidiol (CBD) based medicine very soon.
Earlier today, NSW Premier Mike Baird announced UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals will be able to provide its Epidiolex medicine under a compassionate access scheme.
Initially, 40 families will benefit from the medication, which will be distributed via Sydney Children’s Hospital. It’s hoped the trial will be expanded to hundreds of paediatric patients within the next year. Families eligible for the first trial will be contacted in the coming weeks.
“Parents have told us they do not want to play pharmacist – they want nothing but the best for their children and we are driven by this same purpose,” said Premier Baird.
The news comes shortly after GW Pharmaceuticals announced positive results from a clinical trial of its Epidiolex medicine for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS); a rare form of childhood epilepsy.
The Compassionate Access Scheme falls under an agreement inked last year by the NSW Government and GW Pharmaceuticals to trial cannabinoid-based medicines for children with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.
This Compassionate Access Scheme just the beginning said Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward.
“We have embarked on an ambitious research program to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids for patients suffering from a range of debilitating conditions.”
New South Wales also has implemented a Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme (TICS), which provides police with increased discretionary powers to not charge participants in the scheme who are found to have cannabis in their possession; or their carers. Participants in TICS are allowed to possess 15 grams of cannabis leaf, 1 gram of oil or 2.5 grams of resin.
TICS is far from ideal as it still means using marijuana for pain relief even in a case of terminal illness remains in a legal grey area, but it’s a start.
The NSW Government is investing $9 million over five years on clinical trials of cannabis products. Further information about the New South Wales’ Governments’ cannabis programs can be viewed here.