Shares for GW Pharmaceuticals have doubled in price since a study recently showed success in treating children with a rare form of epilepsy. In the first of four trials, Epidiolex users saw a marked reduction in seizure activity compared to those taking a placebo. The Guardian reported that the recent trial success with the cannabis-derived drug means that the FDA may consider approving Epidiolex for the treatment of the epilepsy disorder that previously had no treatment at all.
According to GW, their new Epidiolex drug, which contains a cannabis derivative, has proven to reduce seizures for patients suffering from Dravet syndrome. This seizure disorder affects children and currently has no U.S.-approved treatment.
The recent trial, which included 120 patients who either took the cannabis-derived Epidiolex or a placebo, those taking the actual drug reported a 39 percent decrease in seizure activity, compared to a 13 percent decrease for those taking a placebo. According to GW Pharmaceuticals, those numbers are “highly statistically significant” and could lead to approval for treatment of Dravet syndrome in the U.S. The mean age of the trial participants was 10-years-old, and all the patients suffer mild to severe seizures as a result of Dravet syndrome.
— AgriConsult (@AgriConsult) March 14, 2016
“The positive outcome of this Phase 3 trial is a significant milestone in the development of Epidiolex as a potential new treatment for patients suffering from Dravet syndrome,” explained Justin Gover, the CEO for GW Pharmaceuticals. “We are excited about the potential for Epidiolex to become the first [US Food and Drug Administration] approved treatment option specifically for Dravet syndrome patients and their families.”
“This shows that cannabinoids can produce compelling and clinical important data and represent a highly promising new class of medications, hopefully in a range of conditions,” Gover told Reuters.
GW Pharmaceuticals was established in 1998. One of the founding principles for GW was to explore the medical benefits of Cannabis for multiple sclerosis. The GW treatment called Sativex is not approved yet in the U.S. but has been approved in more than 20 countries. Currently, GW has a license to grow cannabis in the UK. Upon hearing news of the trial success for Epidiolex, prices per share of GW Pharmaceutical stock increased by 123 percent.
— scott budman (@scottbudman) March 14, 2016
The cannabis-centric pharmaceutical company has another study for Dravet syndrome that includes another 150 patients. They are also conducting trials for cannabis-based drugs that may be used to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex, according to the Washington Post.
With the changing attitude toward cannabis treatment, chances for cannabis-derived medications, such as the ones GW Pharmaceuticals is testing, to become FDA approved is just a matter of time. There is proof in the data that cannabis treatment for epilepsy and other neurological disorders is successful. With the heavy push on legalization for both medicinal and recreational cannabis, many are opting to treat numerous conditions with cannabis extracts, oils, and other forms of the plant, with many reports of success.
— Forbes (@Forbes) March 14, 2016
GW Pharmaceuticals is just one of the progressive companies that have begun researching the medicinal value of cannabis. As laws loosen in the United States in coming years, more will likely begin working with cannabinoids as medicine, but GW will have decades more experience and possibly even the patents to keep their findings proprietary, such as with Epidiolex. Unlike Sativex, which still is not approved for use in the U.S., Epidiolex is going to be geared for the U.S. marketplace, and GW Pharmaceuticals is pushing for FDA approval once the results from all four trials are compiled and proof that the cannabis-based medication really does work for Dravet syndrome patients, which has no other current approved treatment.
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