Scotland officials have decided to approve the cannabis-based epilepsy medicine Epidyolex for use on the NHS.
The Scottish Medical Consortium has cleared Epidyolex as a treatment for patients aged two years and over with seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic condition.
It is hoped that the medicine – combined with the patients’ current treatment – will help to reduce seizure frequency and severity in patients with non-refractory medical conditions.
Commenting on the historic decision, Chris Tovey, the executive vice president of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, told The Press Journal: “This is an important decision by the SMC and an exciting development for patients, their families and clinicians in Scotland.
“The decision to reimburse Epidyolex demonstrates that, if provided with high-quality evidence, health authorities can provide access to rigorously-tested cannabis-based medicines to patients who could benefit from them.”
What is Epidyolex?
Epidyolex is a CBD-based medication that is licensed in the UK for use as an anticonvulsant medication. The drug can be prescribed to patients with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes – rare forms of epilepsy that are often resistant to conventional treatments.
Evidence shows that Epidyolex can be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in children with these syndromes.
Scotland’s decision to offer Epidyolex on the NHS could be a game-changer. Despite the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018, only a very small number of prescriptions have been approved through the NHS.
According to the Medicines Agency, Epidyolex is also used to treat tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) alongside other epilepsy treatments in patients also aged two and above. These are rare types of epilepsy that begin in childhood and can continue into adulthood.
Louise Fish, the chief executive of the Tuberous Sclerosis Association, added: “TSC (Tuberous sclerosis complex) is often a difficult to manage condition and up to 60% of people with TSC-related epilepsy do not respond to standard anti-seizure medication.
“New treatment options are desperately needed, and we are delighted that this medicine will now be available on the NHS for eligible patients in Scotland.”