The future of prescription CBD oil in Idaho
A first for the state of Idaho – one brand of cannabidiol (CBD) oil will soon be available by prescription.
Epidiolex, a highly-concerated CBD oil, is now certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It recently passed a two-year-long study involving people from around the United States who have one of two forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
The research was supervised by the FDA and included 47 Idahoans.
Overall, the study proved to be a success. Especially for 8-year-old Addison Capril Berria of Boise.
Her mom, Ashley Berria, calls it a 'miracle.' She says it has been six months since her daughter's last seizure.
Prior to taking part in the study, EEGs of Addy's brain showed constant seizure activity.
"Before, she was having upwards of 50 to 100 seizures a day," said Ashley Berria. "Constant non-stop seizures in her brain that were killing her optic nerve and took her vision. The doctors told me, 'you know, just be prepared that the next seizure could take her life.'"
Addy was five-years-old when the study started. Her mom said they saw results after just a couple months of her using the CBD oil.
A common response from participants in the study – and ultimately, the FDA certified Epidiolex as being 'medically beneficial.'
Formerly, Cannabis and all of its dirivatives, including CBD, were classified as schedule 1 under the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
That means, they're federally illegal for having no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse.
Now that the FDA has certified Epidiolex as having a 'medical benefit' the DEA will have to reschedule it. They have until the end of September to make a decision.
Either way, Epidiolex will soon be available through prescription.
"It's exciting to have a new therapy," said Doctor Robert Wechsler, owner of Consultants in Epilepsy and Neurology, Idaho's only epilepsy research center. "But, the excitement has to be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt because nothing is going to be as amazing as what CBD has been made to sound like."
Dr. Wechsler led Idaho's participation in the study.
About one-third of participants saw a reduction in their seizures, one-third saw an improvement in the severity of their seizures but not a reduction, and one-third didn't see much of a benefit, according to Dr. Wechsler.
There are currently about two dozen seizure prescriptions on the market.
"Nothing is going to work for everybody. But, every time we have something new come out – some people benefit," said Dr. Wechsler.
In the case of CBD, young Addison is one of those people.
"It was a tremendous difference," said Addison's mom, Ashley. "From nonstop grand mal seizures to just nothing! To be a mom and to watch your kid be able to say hi, and interact, and actually do things, and not suffer through a seizure... it is very heartwarming."
Addy and the other participants were given an exemption for participating in the study, allowing them to continue using Epidiolex even after the research ended. All 47 of Idaho's participants chose to keep using it.
There are roughly 10,000 people with epilepsy in the Treasure Valley.
Dr. Wechsler said his biggest concern is that they will seek brands of CBD that could be dangerous. He said in an FDA study that looked at 18 products labeled as 'high-concentrate CBD oil' only two of them actually contained any CBD and the other two contained just two-percent.
He said the concern is that by using oils with varying levels of CBD that a person's seizures could actually worsen.
A seizure occurs when there is an abnormal surge of electricity in the brain. CBD works by calming the spread of abnormal electricity and therefore preventing the seizure.
Epidiolex contains 100 miligrams of pure CBD per milliliter of oil.
All of the THC (the chemical derivitive of cannabis that gets people high) is extracted from the plant.
Click here to follow Ally's story on Facebook.