Clinical Trial Sends GW Pharmaceuticals’ Stocks Soaring
In the wake of Brexit, one British company is defying all expectations and is doing well, and it’s cannabis-related. Monday GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it had completed a clinical trial, proving the effectiveness of Epidiolex on patients suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Stocks immediately rose nearly 30 percent and settled at 568.5p, a 12.35 percent increase.
In March, GW stocks doubled after studies showed that Epidiolex is effective against Dravet syndrome. Adding Lennox-Gastaut syndrome to its list makes the drug more valuable in the eyes of investors. The addition of new clinical results pushed the biotech company’s stocks up over 12 percent to a market capital of £1.4 billion.
“We believe Epidiolex could be an effective new treatment for a range of childhood-onset epilepsies,” said Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals. GW Pharmaceuticals hope to achieve an approval from the FDA by the first half of 2017. A commercial launch in the United States could come as early as 2018.
The average patient suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome has a seizure strong enough to hit the floor 74 times per month. Epidiolex contains only trace amounts of THC. CBD, the active ingredient, is in much higher concentrations. The drug, developers claim, the product ends up being pure CBD.
An FDA approval, according to Gover, would place GW in an entirely different arena than current medical cannabis. GW Pharmaceuticals was one of the first-ever companies to develop cannabinoid drugs, beginning nearly twenty years ago in 1998.
Researchers studied 171 patients in the US and Europe ranging from age two to age 55. On average, patients who took Epidiolex had 44 percent less seizures. 86 patients took Epidiolex along with their epilepsy medication, and 85 took a placebo. Those who took a placebo had only 22 percent less seizures. 74 percent of participants complained about “side effects” which ranged from sleepiness to a mildly decreased appetite.
GW Pharmaceuticals reports sales at about £30m per year from it’s original cannabis drug, Sativex, which is approved in 28 nations. The biotech company hopes to generate sales at over $1 billion a year with the addition of Epidiolex.
Nearly 40,000 men and women in Europe and the United States suffer from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a disease which is difficult to treat effectively. “In total there are about half a million children in the US with epilepsy, about a third of whom are resistant to treatment with current drugs,” Mr Gover said.
Bullish analysts say they forecast GW Pharmaceuticals with annual sales of $1.2 billion per year. The company isn’t too worried about the effects of Brexit, either. “I can’t really see it having a material effect,” Gover told Forbes. “We’re importing a finished pharmaceutical ready for distribution and sale into the United States. I can’t see that system being impacted by Brexit in any way.”
Epidiolex is currently being tested for effectiveness against Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. The next segment of clinical data from GW Pharmaceuticals will be released in the third quarter of this year.
Benjamin Adams has been a journalist since 2006 and is the Californian correspondent for Cannabusiness.com.
His written work has been seen in Cannabis Now Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Treating Yourself Magazine. He’s also written for Merry Jane and MedicalMarijuana.eu
Benjamin studied Art and Argumentative Writing at the University of Utah.
He’s tried cannabis in places ranging from Copenhagen to Jamaica.