Natural high for shares on cannabis medicine trial

GW Pharmaceuticals hit an all-time high after its experimental cannabis treatment showed promising results

An experimental cannabis drug has produced promising results in a small study of children with hard-to-treat epilepsy, sending shares in its British maker GW Pharmaceuticals to an all-time high.

The company, which grows cannabis under licence at a secret location in Britain, is developing a range of so-called cannabinoid medicines. It already sells Sativex for spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis across Europe.

The latest findings for its new product Epidiolex follow an assessment of 27 children and young adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy who were given the drug in two US hospitals under an expanded access programme.

Epidiolex is given as a strawberry-lime flavoured syrup twice a day. The medicine contains the cannabinoid CBD but none of the psychoactive ingredient THC that makes marijuana smokers high.

GW said that results after 12 weeks of therapy in the open-label study were “encouraging”, with a reduction in seizure frequency of more than 50 per cent. It now plans to start a Phase II/III clinical trial in the second half of the year.

Justin Gover, GW’s chief executive, said he expected Epidiolex would be ready for submission to US and European regulators in 2016.

Epidiolex has been granted “orphan drug” status by the US Food and Drug Administration, which may ease its path to market and also offers GW additional exclusivity.

The designation reflects the unmet need for new approaches to help children with severe epilepsy syndromes such as Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut, where seizures often persist despite high doses of multiple anti-epileptic drugs.

Excitement over prospects for Epidiolex has been a driver for GW’s shares, which have surged since the company tapped into a new US shareholder base by listing on Nasdaq a year ago.

“It has become a central part of our valuation – there is no doubt about that,” Mr Gover said in an interview. “That reflects a number of reasons: the fact there is so much interest among physicians and patients, the fact it is an orphan development programme and the fact we own all the commercial rights worldwide.”

Shares in GW gained 15 per cent to a record high of 429p.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in