Around 2,000 people could benefit from “a potentially life changing, seizure preventing cannabis-based treatment” on the NHS from the New Year, after NHS England fast-tracked access to GW Pharma’s Epidyolex (cannabidiol).
From January 6, doctors will be able to prescribe the drug alongside clobazam for eligible children with two types of severe epilepsy which can cause multiple seizures a day – Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
The move follows an agreement between NHS England and GW Pharma, which enabled The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to recommend the treatment.
More than 90% of patients with LGS or Dravet syndrome have multiple seizures per day, which puts them at constant risk for falls and injury.
According to NHS England, clinical trials have shown the treatment could reduce the number of seizures by up to 40% in some children when used in combination with clobazam.
“Living with or caring for someone with severe epilepsy is exceptionally challenging, especially as there are so few treatments available for the rare forms of the condition,” said NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.
“Thousands of people including children will now have access to this treatment, which has the potential to make a real difference.”
Epidyolex is an oral solution of cannabidiol, which comes from the cannabis plant but lacks the 'high' associated with its recreational use.