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Rite Aid May Start Selling Drug Derived From Cannabis Soon

Jun 29, 2018 08:59 PM EDT

A new drug derived from a marijuana component, known to reduce epilepsy seizures, may be coming to Rite Aid drug stores soon.

Cannabis Derived Drug Coming to Drugstores

Rite Aid would be selling Epidiolex once the Drug Enforcement Administration schedules the medication, the drugstore chain told CNNMoney.

After FDA's approval of the drug on June 25, the DEA has 90 days thereafter to categorize or 'schedule' the drug according to acceptability of use. The new treatment will then be available in pharmacies and expected to be prescribed by doctors.

"Given that Epidiolex has received approval from the FDA, upon being rescheduled, Rite Aid expects to fill prescriptions for Epidiolex later this year based on availability," Rite Aid spokersperson Ashley Flower reportedly said.

Medical Use Of The Marijuana Component

Epidiolex is an oral drug found to be linked with minimizing seizures among patients with epilepsy especially those with treatment-resistant cases. Most of the patients involved in the studies have the Dravet syndrome and the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome specifically.

Developed by British manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals, the new epilepsy drug contains cannabidiol or CBD, an active and abundant chemical found in cannabis sativa plant or marijuana. Several studies have linked it to pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antipsychotic properties.

Despite being derived from marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive - it would not get patients high. The marijuana component responsible for the high is called the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

There have been cases of parents who linked marijuana components to seizure treatment in their children since 2013 including a five-year-old girl with Dravet syndrome.

Research Findings On CBD Use Among Children And Young Adults

Several studies have found that CBD significantly reduced seizure in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

A study published in The Lancet Neurology found that a greater number of patients with Davert syndrome responded well to the drug compared to participants with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and other types. The study followed 12 weeks of treatment of 137 patients.

Side effects that may have been related to the drug include epilepticus (which occurred most frequently among patients), diarrhea, weight loss, pneumonia, and lethargy. Other studies also found that sleepiness and fatigue may be linked to the medication.

Opening Doors For Marijuana Regulation

While the FDA approval can be used by advocates who clamor for marijuana rescheduling to ease medical and research use, the DEA classifies each drug separately and the scheduling of Epidiolex will not affect the schedule of CBD or marijuana.

However, there have been developments in the perception of cannabidiol in marijuana for medical use. Just this Wednesday, professional basketball league BIG3 announced that it would permit the use of CDB for athletes' pain management and recovery, making them the first sports league to do so.

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