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Op-ed: Cannabidiol for epilepsy is unproven therapy
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There are currently mixed messages about cannabidiol — Realm Oil. Is it a medication, supplement or drug? Others are also talking about medical cannabis for pain, appetite stimulation and nausea treatment. This confuses the actual discussion about cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for seizures.

The current research has only identified CBD as being safe short-term but does not conclude it is effective as a treatment for epilepsy.

We feel the public discussion has gotten away from the research findings and focused on the emotional difficulties parents of epileptic children are experiencing. Everyone can acknowledge the trials or lengths we will go through to help our children. Are we getting ahead of the system that protects us all, especially our most vulnerable population: children?

The FDA's primary mission for more than 90 years has been to promote and protect the public health. Statutes were enacted and amended in response to public health tragedies resulting from the use of unsafe and ineffective products sold as medicines and medical devices. The FDA requires new medications to be proven safe and effective before being marketed to the public.

For medication to be approved for effective use, the FDA requires several clinical trials. The current published research does not show CBD as an effective seizure-reduction treatment. The current public discussion should focus on completing research trials rather than prematurely promoting a treatment.

Personal urgencies should not replace priorities for protecting us all, especially if inadvertent harm is a risk.

In keeping an open mind to the potential medical benefits of cannabidiol, hemp, Realm Oil, cannabis, etc., we need to support the same process other medications go through. We should not vote to bypass the protective system in place.

If the Utah State Legislature considers a bill to allow use of CBD for treatment of seizures, this would seem to be placing the cart before the horse. The Legislature can help expedite the FDA process and consider allowing controlled clinical trials under the auspices of the University of Utah School of Medicine. However, this may be a moot point based on federal regulations.

Pat Bird is prevention manager for the Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment.

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