Cannabidiol: A New Hope for Patients With Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes

Ann Pharmacother. 2019 Jun;53(6):603-611. doi: 10.1177/1060028018822124. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


Objective: To review the efficacy, safety, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of pure, plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD; Epidiolex) in the treatment of Dravet syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).

Data sources: Relevant information was identified through EMBASE and Ovid MEDLINE (1946 to October 2018). Product labeling and were also reviewed.

Study selection/data extraction: English language articles evaluating efficacy and safety in humans with treatment-resistant epilepsies were reviewed; additional pharmacology and pharmacokinetic studies in humans, animals, and in vitro were also included.

Data synthesis: Pure, plant-based CBD is a pharmaceutical grade extract that exhibits clinically significant antiseizure properties, with a hypothesized multimodal mechanism of action. In the GWPCARE trial series, CBD displayed superior efficacy in reducing key seizure frequencies (convulsive seizures in DS; drop seizures in LGS) by 17% to 23% compared with placebo as adjunctive therapy to standard antiepileptic drugs in patients 2 years of age and older. Common adverse effects were somnolence, diarrhea, and elevated hepatic transaminases. Noteworthy drug-drug interactions included clobazam, valproates, and significant inducers/inhibitors of CYP2C19 and 3A4 enzymes. Relevance to Patient Care and Clinical Practice: A discussion regarding CBD dosing, administration, adverse effects, monitoring parameters, and interactions is provided to guide clinicians. CBD offers patients with DS and LGS a new treatment option for refractory seizures.

Conclusion: This is the first cannabis-derived medication with approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. This CBD formulation significantly reduces seizures as an adjunct to standard antiepileptic therapies in patients ≥2 years old with DS and LGS and is well tolerated.

Keywords: CBD; Dravet; Epidiolex; GWP42003-P; Lennox-Gastaut; antiseizure medications; cannabidiol; epilepsy; seizure; treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lennox Gastaut Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Young Adult


  • Cannabidiol