This month, the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) will reopen discussions on the re-classification of cannibidiols (CBD), one of the components of marijuana. If the chemical is re-classified it will be added to the list of controlled medicines, simplifying and liberalising the process of importation for scientific researchers and legal figures.
The re-opening of discussions follows the Brazilian Federal Council of Medicine (CFM)’s decision last month to authorise the prescription of cannabidiols to children and adolescents up to the age of 18, who are suffering from epilepsy and not responding to conventional treatments. Not all doctors are allowed to make the prescriptions, only those who have specialised in psychiatry, neurosurgery and neurology.
The CFM stated that it only approved the resolution after reviewing sustained scientific analysis, in which all factors relating to the security and efficacy of the substance were evaluated. The analysis found that there is not yet evidence to prove that the administration of CBD is “completely secure and effective” in the treatment of epilepsy. “Because of this we have restricted the prescription of the substance to situations where existing treatments are not providing satisfactory results”, the CFM informed.
They have highlighted the need for sustained scientific research into the effects of the chemical substance. The resolution will be revisited in two years, after new scientific evidence has been analysed.
The vice president of the CFM, Emmanuel Fortes Cavalcanti, commented that six months of not responding to alternative treatment was an “adequate period” to administer the CBD. Epilepsy responds to existing treatment around 70% of the time.
CBD is not psycho-active and does not cause a high. The dose will range from 2.5mg to 25mg, depending on the weight of the child or adolescent, and can be administered up to two times a day. Although the drug will only be offered to sufferers under the age of 18, those who use the drug as children will be permitted continued use of it into adulthood.
Patients who receive the treatment will be informed of the potential risks and benefits. A 2013 study conducted by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that CBD has therapeutic properties for numerous disorders, acting as an anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant agent. They found that in some experimental models it acts as a potential medicine for the treatment of neuro-inflammation, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia, as well as epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a brain condition which affects 50 million people worldwide, with 80% of cases occurring in developing countries. The illness seriously affects the quality of life of sufferers, often causing brain damage in children and adolescents.
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