A WA neurologist says 'medicinal cannabis could help children at PMH by next year'.
ONE of WA’s most respected and senior neurologists believes there is potential for medicinal cannabis to help some of the sickest children at Princess Margaret Hospital from next year.
PMH head of neurology Lakshmi Nagarajan, who is also the director of its epilepsy program, said there was evidence medicinal cannabis may be useful in treating children with Dravet syndrome, Lennon Gastaut syndrome and infantile spasms.
Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses but despite many advances in treatment options, including anti-epileptic drugs, vagal nerve stimulation, special diets and brain surgery for selected candidates, about 30 per cent of children with epilepsy continue to have seizures.
Dr Nagarajan said children affected by Treatment Resistant Epilepsy in Childhood (TREC) could benefit from medicinal cannabis.
She said cannabinoid, found in the cannabis plant or the enriched product, had been well-tolerated by patients in several reports, case studies and open label trials, even offering benefits such as improved sleep, alertness and mood.
However, Dr Nagarajan noted that more than 10 per cent of participants were adversely-affected in a recent trial of patients aged between one and 30.
The State Government enacted regulations to make medicinal cannabis a controlled prescription drug at the start of this month.
Dr Nagarajan said it gave clinicians another treatment option.
“Living with epilepsy in childhood has implications for the quality of life for the child and family, beyond the effects of seizures themselves,” she said.
“Several reports as well as feedback from families of children with TREC on the efficacy of cannabinoid or CBD (cannabinoid) enriched extracts have suggested they may be useful in treating TREC.”