for the Daily Beast
In April, a committee at the Food and Drug Administration took the unprecedented step to recommend for approval Epidiolex, an epilepsy drug containing a plant-sourced cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). In June, the FDA will vote on approving the drug, which has been shown in limited studies to be effective for those suffering from severe epilepsy.
Maria Selva’s seven-year-old daughter, Aliana, has epilepsy and has found relief from seizures with CBD.
But treating her daughter’s seizures with CBD has put Selva at significant risk, and she has mixed feelings about the FDA’s potential approval of Epidiolex. In October 2017, Child Protective Services charged Maria and her husband with “severe medical neglect,” and removed Aliana from her parents’ care.
Aliana Selva was six-years-old and on vacation with her family in Los Angeles when she had her first tonic-clonic seizure. She had experienced a few mild seizures as an infant, but the doctors assured Maria and her husband, Jo Selva, that these seizures were common and she would likely grow out of them. For nearly four years, the Selvas thought the doctors were right.
Then, on March 31, 2016, Aliana had two seizures.
The Selvas rushed Aliana to the emergency room, where she was examined and released. The doctor said the hospital would forward the exam notes to a neurologist in the Bay Area, where the Selvas lived. When they returned home, a neurologist called and said Aliana needed to be put on the anticonvulsant drug, Keppra.
“I remember asking her, so, is there a diagnosis?” Maria says. “It just seemed so strange, we didn’t even know what was wrong but we were already putting her on medication for it.” (continued)