It’s the first time UAB has discussed early results of the study – believed to be the nation’s largest on CBD oil — that began last year.
And those results appear dramatic.
“We have noticed that at least 50 percent of the patients have more than 50 percent reduction in seizures, which is very nice,” Szaflarski said in an interview with AL.com this week. “Some of these patients have multiple seizures per day. They report on CBD that they have days without seizures, which is great.”
Evidence of the positive impact of CBD oil on patients suffering from epilepsy has largely been anecdotal before the early results from the UAB study. The CBD oil has less than 1 percent THC, which is what provides the psychoactive high from marijuana. With such a minimal presence of THC, the CBD oil does not provide a high.
UAB is planning to present its findings in March to the American Academy of Neurology, where more than 10,000 neurologists worldwide will be in attendance, Szaflarski said.
“It’s a meeting where pretty much all neurologists around the country and around the world go to learn the newest things that are happening in neurology,” he said.
“It will be presented to a large number of physicians, who will then go to their communities and have additional knowledge about CBD. There is a lot of interest in CBD for treatment for various types of epilepsy and we are collecting a lot of data that will allow us to decide if some patients will respond to this type of treatment or not.”
UAB is limited in what it can say at this point about the Carly’s Law study because of the pending presentation.
Beyond the raw numbers of seeing a reduction in seizures, Szaflarski said quality of life has improved for patients in the study.
“Many patients or families report to us that the patient or their child is more attentive and more interested in their environment, which is something that is very important in addition to seizure control or improved seizure control that these patients have positive, rather than negative, cognitive effects of the treatment,” he said. “The majority of the seizure medications that are on the market have some negative effects of cognition. Here, we observe something to be different.”
Anecdotal evidence of such improvement has led one Alabama lawmaker to propose a law to decriminalize medical marijuana oil. Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, is expected to introduce Leni’s Law next week when the 2016 legislative session begins.
He said the improvement of Leni Young, a 4-year-old girl whose family relocated to Oregon from Alabama so she could legally obtain CBD oil, motivated him to build upon the 2014 Carly’s Law.
“Our expectation (going into the study) was that we will see some response but we were very guarded because it was a lot of anecdotal data,” Szaflarski said. “But we really didn’t know what to expect.
“In many aspects of this study, we have learned that, yes, there are many patients who respond and respond very well. There are some patients who are seizure-free, which is fantastic.”
“There is no reason I should have to consider becoming a criminal to help my child because I live in the wrong ZIP code.”
Szaflarski said there are about 70 patients in the Carly’s Law study now while most studies around the country are composed of about 10 to 25 patients.
A critical detail of the UAB study, Szaflarski said, is the access to quality CBD oil from GW Pharmaceuticals in Great Britain. The company provides a consistent product that allows doctors to trust their findings, Szaflarski said.
While CBD oil is available commercially, the product is generally of an inconsistent quality, Szaflarski said.
“When a patient in Colorado goes to a local store, they are frequently getting something different from day to day, from batch to batch because it’s untested or it’s not sufficiently tested to provide all the information that is needed,” he said.
“If I hear a response from my patients, I know I can expect the same response tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and a year from now. On the other hand, if I prescribe something and a patient goes to a local store and gets one product, it doesn’t mean they will get the same product tomorrow and the same response tomorrow.”
As for the political debate, Szaflarski said it was too soon for the results of the study to be considered conclusive – though he said he hoped at some point, CBD oil would be available in pharmacies.
While the pros and cons of CBD oil continue to be discussed, Szaflarski said that definitive answers may be available through more research in two or three years.
“Not today,” Szaflarski said when asked if he had a position on the political debate of the medical marijuana oil. “I actually don’t really know what the effects of the CBD oil, the THC, are. These results have not been fully explored. We need to have a good grasp of what this product does before we can say this is safe or not safe for the public.
“It’s a very hot debate and it’s hard to take sides. But I would like to see more data before I can say one way or the other.”
Source: By P. Gattis www.Al.com