Epilepsy in Colombia

Epilepsy in Colombia

With 450,000 people with epilepsy and a prevalence of 11 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Colombia is one of the countries with more epilepsy in the world. In comparison with other developed countries that have better access to health and a prevalence of 4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.


1.3% of the Colombian population suffers from epilepsy, a disease that represents 0.8% of the causes of mortality in the country. With regard to these statistics, the Congress of Colombia decreed in 2010 Law 1414, “which establishes special protection measures for people suffering from epilepsy, and dictates the principles and guidelines for their comprehensive care.”


This chronic disease that affects people of any age and is characterized by the tendency to suffer frequent seizures caused by abnormal electrical discharges of brain cells. In Colombia, 75% of these people are children under 15 years of age. The World Health Organization decided to include epilepsy among mental pathologies.


There is a growing demand for alternative solutions on the part of patients due to the lack of known cures and relief of symptoms. In addition, because one third of this population suffers what is known as refractory or refractory epilepsy, that is, it does not respond to conventional treatments. The majority of patients suffering from refractory epilepsy have unsuccessfully tried several attempts to control seizures with different medications (3 to 5 or more antiepileptic drugs and steroids), without success.


Medical cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy gained national attention in the United States when a girl named Charlotte obtained help and research from a Medicinal Cannabis group that revealed a reduction in the frequency of Charlotte seizures from 50 seizures per day to 2 -3 nocturnal seizures per month, these benefits have already been reported by many patients with epilepsy.


The Epilepsia Magazine, which is a publication of the League Against Epilepsy, dedicated its entire edition of June 2014 to the review of the uses of cannabis; or that the congress of the American Academy of Epilepsy, which lasts a week and is done once a year, devoted an entire day to lecturing on medicinal cannabis.


This notion is supported by empirical evidence published by the Official Journal of the International League against Epilepsy, which revealed that 48% of epileptologists and general neurologists, and 98% of patients with epilepsy would advise medicinal cannabis in severe cases of epilepsy.


Officially, the Colombian health system only treats epilepsy with orthodox or conventional treatments, which are not being successful. As of August 2016, the Colombian Congress approved a new law that regulates the medicinal use of cannabis and allows the commercial cultivation, processing and export of products derived from it.


According to the government, this is a step forward in changing the repressive drug laws of the country and orienting them to public health for the benefit of many patients and likewise calls for doctors and researchers to work on the issue. It is expected that treatment based on cannabis, expand to new medical alternatives once the law is fully implemented, with special emphasis on the treatment of epilepsy with medicinal cannabis.