The first FDA-approved medication containing cannabidiol (CBD) sourced from cannabis plants is now available by prescription in all 50 U.S. states, CNN reports.
The epilepsy medication Epidiolex, created by the United Kingdom-based drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals, is approved in the U.S. as a treatment for two different types of severe epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, both most commonly found in children. The drug is a twice-daily oral solution
Epidiolex became the first CBD-based medication to receive FDA approval in June.
According to GW Pharmaceuticals, the medication is expected to cost about $32,500 per year; the company says that is line with other epilepsy medications, and that Epidiolex should be covered under most health insurance plans.
“Because these patients have historically not responded well to available seizure medications, there has been a dire need for new therapies that aim to reduce the frequency and impact of seizures. We are committed to ensuring that these patients can access this novel cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and is eligible to be covered by insurance for appropriate patients.” — Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals, in a written statement
Although Epidiolex is only approved for the treatment of two very specific and rare types of epilepsy, U.S. law allows doctors to prescribe the medication “off-label” for other conditions. In fact, according to the report, this is a common tactic in the U.S. medical industry, where one out of every five medical prescriptions is meant for off-label use.