The reasons why Cannabis Science™ is entering the pharmaceutical cannabinoid industry. Recent advances in science have opened the door to develop, produce, and commercialize, a variety of effective whole plant cannabinoid based pharmaceutical products with a wide variety of important applications.
Although cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, until very recently little was known about how it actually worked. Some uses of cannabis are well known, such as alleviating nausea and stimulating the appetite for people with HIV/AIDS and cancer.
Other well-known uses include chronic pain, and reducing muscle spasms associated with neuromuscular disorders like MS and spinal cord injuries. Some current uses are poorly understood, such as its effectiveness in alleviating certain autoimmune disorders such a Crohn's Disease.
Cannabis Science will develop more effective ways to produce and commercialize the production of whole plant cannabinoid based pharmaceutical products. Even today new uses for cannabis are being found, such as the recent discovery that topical cannabis preparations can be effective against MRSA, the deadly antibiotic-resistant flesh-eating disease. Other topical applications, which are largely non-psychoactive, would target localized pain, such as arthritis, and burns, but also neuropathic pain, for which there are few effective treatments.
Cannabinoid Pharmaceutical Products on the Market Today
GW has entered into agreement with the German pharmaceutical firm Bayer Healthcare for marketing Sativex® in the UK. This agreement provided GW with millions of dollars in licensing fees and operating capital.
In February of last year, GW Pharmaceuticals sold the rights to develop and market Sativex® for cancer pain in the US to Japanese firm Otsuka Pharmaceutical. Otsuka paid GW a signature fee of $18 million, and may pay up to $273 million in royalties and fees. In addition, Otsuka will bear the costs of all US development activities for Sativex® in the treatment of cancer pain, additional indications, and future formulations. GW and Otsuka will jointly oversee all US clinical development and regulatory activities.
Clearly, Otsuka's willingness to contemplate paying up to a quarter of a billion dollars in royalties and fees for one cannabis-based pharmaceutical with a less than overwhelming efficacy profile indicates that the total market for medical cannabis products is a multi-billion prospect. According to Investec Securities, GW's broker, Sativex® could have peak annual sales of $390m.
Also, in 2005 GW and the Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall Prodesfarma, S.A. ("Almirall") announced that they had entered into an exclusive agreement for Almirall to market Sativex® in Europe (excluding the UK) Almiral paid GW a "$12 million signature fee." (approx $20 million at present exchange rates.)