Glen Stubbe

Medical marijuana trial for 30 kids with severe epilepsy

THIRTY Queensland children suffering severe epilepsy will be part of a trial of a marijuana-derived medicine.

But the head of the Brisbane research centre running the trial has warned the drug won't be a "miracle cure".

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick on Wednesday announced the government would fund a trial into the drug Epidiolex after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the drug's manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals.

"Our project is driven by two things: it is driven by compassion and hope," he said.

"The project will focus on helping Queensland children that suffer from treatment-resistant epilepsy. These children suffer from a terribly debilitating condition."

But Children's Health Queensland executive director of medical services Dr Andrew Hallahan warned the drug was unlikely to be a cure-all.

"At its best is what we would have is another option for specialist doctors, for pediatric neurologists to offer to help children," he said.

"The initial studies that I have seen don't indicate that it's going to be a miraculous cure for epilepsy and all drugs have their side effects."

Dr Hallahan said the trial would involve 30 children with very severe, drug-resistant epilepsy and will be chosen by a specialist pediatric neurologist board.

He said he expected the children chosen would have multiple seizures every day and have to be regularly hospitalised.

The number of children to be involved in the trial is capped at 30 because of the availability of the drug. Epidiolex is a liquid medicine derived from marijuana products.

To express interest in your child taking part in the trial contact 13 HEALTH. Mr Dick said he hoped the trial would start before the end of the year. - ARM NEWSDESK

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