GW Pharmaceuticals, a British biopharmaceutical company has announced the price of the drug they invented for rare types of epilepsy called Epidiolex.
This cannabis-derived drug was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. this June. Epidiolex was the also the first drug derived from cannabis to be approved by the federal agency.
Price Revealed in Investor Call
In a conference call with shareholders two weeks ago, the company said that Epidiolex would cost $32,500 for each patient every year.
GW Pharmaceutical’s estimate is based on their assumptions on the average weight and the dosage consumption of medical cannabis patients. They also said that the price tag was comparable to other drugs that are used to treat severe types of epilepsy.
On that conference call, Justin Gover, the CEO of GW Pharmaceutical said that the cannabis-derived drug will give a safe and reliable treatment for patients looking for an alternative to treat their medical condition.
“This first U.S. approval not only represents a transformative milestone for our company but a historic medical breakthrough, offering patients and their families the first and only FDA approved CBD medicine to treat two severe, childhood-onset epilepsies,” Gover said.
“These deserving patients will soon have access to a cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and available by prescription under a physician’s care.”
Julian Gangoli, the North American president of GW Pharmaceuticals said that price for medical cannabis patients with health insurance will be in all likelihood cost less.
Gangoli said that the cost of Epidiolex could be considerably less burdensome and onerous than the $32,500 cost of the drug either over a dispensary or from the internet.
First Cannabis-Derived Medication Approved by FDA
But things seem to be a bit more relaxed as the agency approved Epidiolex. It was the first cannabis-derived drug that is approved by the federal agency.
Epidiolex was given the green light on June 25 for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. These conditions are two rare forms of epilepsy which can cause a dozen or even a hundred seizures every day.
Marinol, the other cannabinoid drug approved by the FDA have utilized synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
Cannabis Should Be Recategorized
Although Epidiolex is already approved by the FDA, the Drug Enforcement Agency must still reschedule the designation of cannabidiol under the Controlled Substances Act for it to be prescribed to patients.
According to Barbara Carreno, a public affairs officer from the DEA, their agency is currently in the process of reviewing the categorization of CBD. Carreno added that they don’t have a choice on the matter as the classification of cannabis will absolutely be lowered to Schedules 5, 4, 3, or even 2.
Gover said that his company is expecting on the decision of the DEA soon. Furthermore, the CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals said that the company has been building up the stock of the drug and they are ready to send it into the U.S. market.
“We expect to make Epidiolex available to U.S. patients this fall, following rescheduling, which is expected to occur within 90 days of FDA approval. The FDA has communicated its recommendation to DEA, and we understand that the rescheduling process is proceeding in a normal fashion and that it will be completed within the expected 90-day timeframe,” Gover said.