Child epilepsy specialist Dr. Shaun Hussain says the drug Epidiolex, approved June 25 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will be a vital intervention for children with a rare but severe form epilepsy.
“A lot of these kids aren’t in school, they’re not growing up to be independent, so there’s a tremendous unmet need," said Hussain, a pediatric neurologist and director of the infantile spasms program at UCLA.
Epidiolex is intended for children with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, disorders that can cause tens or hundreds of seizures a day, interfering with normal development. The drug, made by GW Pharmaceuticals, is the first cannabis-derived medication to win FDA approval.
“This is a moment where we are pivoting from the position that marijuana is only harmful to a position that cannabis actually has some real, therapeutic potential,” said Hussain, who is a member of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative.