The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has issued new guidance that allows local NHS Trusts to fund prescriptions of Epidyolex and Sativex. The landmark decision reverses previous guidance that said Sativex was too expensive in relation to the benefits it provides.
Patient groups are extremely pleased that people in the UK can now gain access to Sativex, an oral spray containing THC and CBD. Local NHS authorities can now pay for a four-week trial for anyone with moderate to severe muscle spasticity brought on by MS, and if symptoms reduce by at least 20% the patient can continue taking it.
Epidyolex recently gained EU approval and it is also the only medical cannabis product to gain FDA approval in the U.S., where it is registered as Epidiolex. It is prescribed for people suffering from rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
GW Pharma is based in the UK and it said it was proud to offer this in the country where the company was founded and where both of these medicines were developed and are manufactured. Nice was previously skeptical about medical cannabis products, but GW Pharma passed rigorous tests to prove the efficacy of Epidyolex and Sativex.
“This is a momentous occasion for UK patients and families who have waited for so many years for rigorously tested, evidenced and regulatory approved cannabis-based medicines to be reimbursed by the NHS,” said Chris Tovey, GW’s chief operating officer.
The firm is also working with the relevant bodies in Germany, Spain, France, and Italy to secure reimbursement ahead of the anticipated launch of the medicine in those countries. It has submitted a bid to gain FDA approval for Sativex in the U.S.
GW reported its Q3 financials on Tuesday last week and posted a net loss of $13.8 million, a significant improvement on the $79.9 million it lost during the same period in 2018. Sales of Epidiolex in the U.S. also beat analysts’ estimations, but the firm’s share price decreased dramatically over fears that sales could plateau.
However, it is now seeing new markets open up and it looks like an interesting stock to watch as it bids to demonstrate increased profitability in the months ahead.
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