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Farmacia Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 2171-8695Print version ISSN 1130-6343


SCHAIQUEVICH, Paula et al. Clinical pharmacology of cannabidiol in refractory epilepsy. Farm Hosp. [online]. 2020, vol.44, n.5, pp.222-229.  Epub July 26, 2021. ISSN 2171-8695.


The aim of this article is to provide a systematic and updated review on the pharmacology of cannabidiol in the context of refractory epilepsy, with special emphasis on its pharmacokinetics, adverse drug reactions and drug-drug interactions.


A review of the literature related to cannabidiol pharmacokinetics, adverse drug reactions and drug-drug interactions was carried out in the context of refractory epilepsy, through a search in PubMed and LILACS.


Original studies that exhaustively describe the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol are limited but informative. Cannabidiol is rapidly absorbed and its bioavailability increases when administered with high fat meals. Cannabidiol exhibits a linear pharmacokinetic profile for doses up to 3,000 mg/day and accumulates after multiple administrations. Elimination half-life has been reported between 14 h and 60 h depending on the sampling times of each study; changes in cannabidiol elimination due to continuous administration cannot be discarded. Of all reported drug-drug interactions with anticonvulsants or other co-administered drugs in patients with epilepsy, the strongest evidence is provided with clobazam. The most frequent cannabidiol-related adverse drug reactions were low to moderate and included somnolence, mainly related to concomitant administration of clobazam, and gastrointestinal alterations. Also, liver function abnormalities were reported during the use of cannabidiol and valproic acid.


Given the increased use of cannabidiol in refractory epilepsy, a comprehensive understanding of its pharmacological profile is essential for the clinical team. Specifically, clinical pharmacists play an important role in monitoring cannabidiol’s safety and efficacy. This approach leads to treatment optimization, allowing to maximizing the pharmacological activity and minimizing the occurrence of adverse events as well as drug-to-drug interactions. Clinical follow-up is essential to avoid discontinuation of treatment or exacerbation of adverse events, which may impair the patients’ quality of life.

Keywords : Cannabidiol; Pharmacokinetics; Drug resistant epilepsy; Adverse drug reactions; Drug interactions.

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