NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first prescription drug made from marijuana.
The medication is for two rare forms of epilepsy and the FDA’s approval could spur much more research into other uses for medical marijuana.
“This is really a landmark for people with epilepsy in the United States. It’s also a landmark for Amercian medicine,” Dr Orrin Devinsky of NYU Langone Medical Center told CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.
“I think for these children and adults with very severe epilepsy this can significantly, positively impact their lives.”
The new medication is called Epidiolex, a strawberry-flavored syrup containing a purified marijuana extract known as cannabidiol, or CBD.
Even though there are numerous approved epilepsy drugs, Dr. Devinsky says there’s a pressing need for something like Epidiolex because it has a completely different, and better tolerated, formula for patients.
“There is a group, a sizable group about one-third of people with epilepsy, their seizures can’t be controlled with current medications,” Devinsky explains.
Pharmaceutical companies have not set a price for the new drug yet, but some analysts predict it could be as much as $25,000 a year. Although it’s only approved for two types of epilepsy, doctors could legally prescribe it for other forms of epilepsy and even non-seizure problems like chronic pain.