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UK Drug Company Raises $90m For Cannabis-Derived Epilepsy Treatment

UK Drug Company Raises $90m For Cannabis-Derived Epilepsy Treatment

sativex_1640977cA British drug company that makes medicines derived from cannabis has managed to raise nearly $90 million (£55 million) from US investors as it works on a new treatment for childhood epilepsy.

According to the Financial Times, GW Pharmaceuticals is based in Wiltshire and grows the drug at a secret laboratory in a location the Home Office has asked it not to disclose. It procured the funding through an oversubscribed Nasdaq share offering in which 2.44 million shares were issued at $36 each.

Chief executive Justin Glover disclosed to the newspaper the money would be used to develop Epidiolex – a treatment for debilitating conditions like Dravet syndrome, a form of drug-resistant epilepsy that manifests in early childhood.

Epidiolex, which is administered in liquid form, has received orphan drug designation for this neurological disorder from the US Food and Drug Administration. The body has also given the go-ahead for stage two clinical trials of the treatment.

GW’s existing product portfolio includes Sativex, a multiple sclerosis drug made from cannabis extract, approved in 24 countries. The US is not among them, though the treatment is currently undergoing stage three clinical trials as a cancer drug in the country.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Glover insisted that despite the strong Nasdaq share offering, GW wanted to distance itself from growing acceptance of cannabis – which is now legal for recreational purposes in Colorado – in the US.

“We are desperately keen that we are not seen as part of that,” he said. “We do something so different.”

He argued the company’s future prospects depended on “whether our medicines are approved by the regulators and prescribed”, rather than on cannabis being legalised.

“We have attracted a huge amount of interest in the US in epilepsy research so it was very logical for us to follow that and raise the money,” Mr Glover said.

He described GW’s epilepsy program as “very exciting”, adding the offering had attracted a greater audience and more awareness of the company’s research.

Posted by Steve Long, Epilepsy Research UK

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