A large clinical trial conducted on a drug derived from cannabis has demonstrated reduction of convulsive seizures experienced by children with a severe form of epilepsy by nearly 50%. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (online, 25 May 2017), has generated interest from the mainstream media.
The multicentre international trial randomised 120 children and young adults with Dravet syndrome into a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of treatment with oral cannabidiol or a placebo. The patients all had drug-resistant seizures.
Dravet syndrome is a particularly distressing form of epilepsy that manifests in the first year of life with seizures and encephalopathy. Initially the condition resembles one of febrile convulsions, but children develop prolonged seizures as they grow, show developmental delay, movement and balance problems and sleep disorders. The condition was once termed severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy. It was described in detail by Charlotte Dravet in 1978. Although there