Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the British manufacturer of a marijuana-derived drug will meet today at Georgia Regents University to discuss the possibility of clinical trials of the company’s marijuana-derived drug for children with difficult seizure disorders.
But even if trials come, they will be limited and more Georgia patients need to get access to these marijuana-derived compounds, said the main sponsor of a medical marijuana bill this year.
The chairman of London-based GW Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Geoffrey Guy, is scheduled to address students and faculty during Grand Rounds on Tuesday as well. His talk is titled, “Finding the Medicine in Marijuana: New developments in cannabinoid medications.”
Cannabinoids refer to the active compounds in marijuana. GW Pharmaceuticals has a drug derived from cannabidiol, one of the most active of those compounds that do not produce a high, called Epidiolex, which has already undergone preliminary observational studies in the U.S. and is set for clinical trials in certain syndromes.
The company, Deal, GRU and the University System of Georgia have already signed a memorandum of understanding to explore holding clinical trials in Georgia. Deal was moved to act after the Georgia Legislature failed to pass a bill this year that would have authorized clinical trials of cannabidiol oil.
Parents of children with untreatable seizure disorders such as Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndromes have been excited by anecdotal reports of children with seizure disorders who greatly improved after being given cannabidiol oil.
The company reported last month that the initial observations in patients with difficult seizure disorders who were given Epidiolex through centers in New York and San Francisco found almost half had at least a 50 percent reduction in the number of seizures.
The fact that the talks are taking place in Augusta is great, said Georgia Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, who championed a bill last year that would have opened up access to cannabidiol oil.
“It is encouraging,” he said. “There is clear indication that Epidiolex… has shown some real positive results. I am grateful for their acceleration of their involvement with GRU and grateful for the governor for initiating that.”
However, Peake said families interested in participating are telling him that the trials are too limited to certain diagnoses and legislation still may be needed to provide greater access.
“I would anticipate that we’re still going to need to look at a more extensive framework for medical cannabis in Georgia than just (the clinical trials),” he said. Peake is cochairing a study committee on medical marijuana that he said might make a stop at GRU.