The approval of the newest drug from GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) has helped to pave the way for a bright future in terms of research and the actual production of new cannabis-based treatments.
The CEO of GW, Justin Gover, stated recently that their new drug known as Epidiolex has helped to completely shift the way that the U.S. will deal with cannabis-related drugs in the near future. He stated fully that “This is an approval, not just a landmark for Epidiolex and for patients who may benefit from this specific medication, but also a strong belief from this company that cannabinoids have a bright future in the form of other drug candidates derived from the cannabis plant across a range of other disease areas.” This marks the first time that a drug using cannabis has been approved for use in the U.S., which means that there may in fact be a domino effect as we move toward the course of the next few years.
The medicine uses one of the main components of cannabis known as CBD or cannabidiol. CBD has no psychoactive component to it unlike THC, the other present compound in cannabis. This means that the user does not get high, which is especially important in cases involving young children across the board. The drug is known not to produce any high in users given that it only has 0.1% THC within it. THC can be instrumental however in ensuring that the other components are working properly.
The drug is meant to treat seizures in those 2 years and older who suffer from Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, both very rare forms of childhood epilepsy. The industry on cannabis has been working to combine that of the pharmaceutical industry for some time now given how much potential cannabis has to treat a wide variety of diseases and ailments.
The DEA still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic which means that it does not have any medicinal potential as well as a high rate of addiction. Both of these claims have been refuted many times by medical journals and popular scientific studies, but yet the government has not changed the policy on cannabis.
The CEO has stated that he doesn’t anticipate there being any delays involved in the release of the drug and that it could hit the market as soon as this fall. This means that patients are that much closer to getting the treatment they need. This new drug is one of many that have been awaiting approval by the FDA for some time now. Given how bureaucratic the system is, it can often take months to years to get something approved, thus the large milestone of approving Epidiolex.
The approval of this new drug is working in tandem with the industry to bring a new level of promise to the market. Given that a drug using cannabis can be approved now, it seems as though there may now be an influx of capital to help bring more of these drugs to fruition in the near future. The cannabis market as a whole is still very much in its infant stages which means that there is a long way to go before the approval of these drugs becomes normalized throughout the country. The hopes are high that over the course of the next several years, more medicines will be able to be made and approved by the U.S., helping patients with a variety of conditions get the help they need.