Epidiolex, the first marijuana-based medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), officially became available for sale in all 50 states Thursday. The cannabis-derived drug got the green light in June.
Manufactured by U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals, the cannabis drug is derived from a plant that has been bred to have a high cannabidiol, or CBD, content. It does not contain tetrahydrocannibinol, the THC part of weed that gets people high.
Epidiolex can be prescribed to treat and reduce seizures associated with two types of rare epileptic syndromes, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet. These are most commonly seen in children, beginning when they are between ages 3 and 5, and the drug was developed after other treatments were not effective for all patients. Most patients with these conditions have daily seizures and sometimes have several every day. Epidiolex will be available for prescription for kids ages 2 and up in an effort to curb the long-lasting effects of these seizure disorders, which can cause children with either condition to experience intellectual and developmental disabilities, and can also lead to a child’s death.
The FDA has previously approved pharmaceuticals made from synthetic cannabinoids. GW Pharmaceuticals also makes another cannabis-derived drug, Sativex, which contains both CBD and THC and is marketed to treat spasticity (i.e. muscle stiffness and spasms) associated with multiple sclerosis.