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Berkeley boy was 'Patient X' in first FDA-approved medicine derived from marijuana

www.sfchronicle.com
Date:
Sunday, Jul 8, 2018

They called him Patient X.

The Berkeley boy had his first epileptic seizure when he was 4, and after that, they kept coming, up to 100 a day. His desperate parents tried a barrage of two dozen medications, plus a high-fat medical diet and autoimmune therapy.

But nothing worked — not until a British company let him try a marijuana-based drug.

Sam Vogelstein, now 17, was the only patient in an early test that was unheard of in medical circles. The high-concentration cannabidiol strain had never been given to children and was illegal in the United States, even though the drug had been stripped of its high-inducing chemical.

It worked. And now, after six years and a clinical trial led by UCSF, the drug is available for others. On June 25, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex for treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

It is the first time the FDA has approved a medicine derived from marijuana. It won’t work for every patient, but for Sam’s family, it’s everything.

Sam arranges his daily medications at home. He had to go to Britain to get the experimental cannabis-based medication. Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle