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Marijuana Drugs Offer New Hope for Children with Brain Injuries


A new investigation is underway to determine whether Cannabidiol can help to treat children who suffered from oxygen deprivation near birth. Cannabidiol is one of many chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. The United Kingdom-based pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals has secured permission from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate Cannabidiol treatments. GW Pharmaceuticals is working on a drug called Epidiolex.

How Cannabidiol Might Help

GW Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in cannabinoid research, has created an intravenous treatment for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a medical term for babies who have been deprived of oxygen near the time of birth which caused brain injury.

The hope, based on studies with animals, is that the drug can “reduce neurologic disability.” There isn’t much information yet on exactly how that will occur or what specific disabilities can be minimized. Children with HIE often suffer from impaired motor skills (because of neurological deficits), developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and cerebral palsy.

What the FDA is Allowing

The FDA has granted orphan drug status to Cannabidiol. This is a special status granted to drugs that are being investigated for treatment of conditions or diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 in the United States. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, by some reports, affects 6,500 to 12,000 infants per year. Under the terms of the approval, GW Pharmaceuticals will have seven years to exclusively market the drug.

GW Pharmaceuticals is expecting to file a new drug application shortly, and will begin initial trials in the second half of 2015. Right now it is also investigating other uses of the drug for epilepsy, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Contact Us

There are several exciting new treatments for children with HIE and related injuries. Of course, only time will tell if they will be effective. For more information on these injuries, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation.

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