The University of Alabama at Birmingham released results from its Cannabidiol Program study, which was created to test the efficacy and tolerability of CBD oil, a marijuana-derived medicine with only trace amounts of the high-inducing chemical THC meant to assist in the quelling of seizures.
According to the results, half of the 51 patients saw sustained improvement of seizure control – specifically a 32 to 45 percent decline in seizures depending on the dose. Two patients were seizure-free at the end of the study and nine others were forced to drop out due to side effects or ineffectiveness.
Currently, 49 children and 30 adults are enrolled in the studies.
“The studies are ongoing, and we have a lot more to learn; but these preliminary findings are encouraging,” Jerzy Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurology and principal investigator of the adult study said in a press release. “Among our goals was to determine the safety of CBD oil therapy, and it appears that, in many cases, patients tolerate the oil quite well. The evidence of seizure reduction gives us hope that, the more we learn about CBD oil, the better we will be able to tailor this therapy to provide relief for those with severe epilepsy.”
The study began in April of 2015 after the legislature unanimously passed “Carly’s Law” the year before. While the legislation approved the study of the CBD oil on patients with intractable seizures, it has drawn the ire of many CBD supporters who complain that the studies aren’t inclusive enough.
“Leni’s Law,” sponsored by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison), seeks to decriminalize the oil at the center of the UAB studies in order to make it more readily available to desperate citizens throughout the state. The law’s namesake, Leni Young, and her family fled Alabama to seek relief in Oregon.
Despite having been on the front lines of the push to pass “Carly’s Law,” Leni was left out of the initial study.
While the medication that Leni receives is slightly different from CBD oil, or more specifically the epidiolex being given to patients in the “Carly’s Law” studies, she has improved by leaps and bounds since moving to Oregon.
UAB’s results will be described at the annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in Vancouver, Canada, which takes place April 15 through 21.