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UK NHS Says Epidiolex Too Expensive, GW Pharma Says Company 'Remains Hopeful'

Tanzeel Akhtar

GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ: GWPH)'s CBD drug Epidiolex, which treats epilepsy, has been deemed too expensive by the U.K.’s National Health Service, according to an iNEWS report.

Epidiolex has been shown to be effective in limiting seizures in children with rare forms of epilepsy, but the U.K.’s medical advisory board has ruled that its price is cost-prohibitive for the national program. 

GW Responds 

Campaign group Cannabis Patient Advocacy and Support Services described the decision as “disappointing” and said the CBD oil had “dramatically” helped some children. 

A GW Pharmaceuticals spokesperson told Benzinga on Thursday that the company is encouraged that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recognizes the significant unmet need of patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. 

"We are committed to working with NICE to address the technical questions it has raised, with the aim of ensuring patients can access the medicine on the NHS as soon as possible following regulatory approval," the spokesperson said. "We remain hopeful that NICE will recommend cannabidiol oral solution at the end of its appraisal process."

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Epidiolex Can Still Be Prescribed

Very few people in England are likely to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis. As of now, it is only likely to be prescribed for the following conditions: children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy and adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy.

The NHS website states: “Epidiolex is not yet licensed in the U.K. but is currently going through the licensing system. In the meantime, the unlicensed medication can be prescribed for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (both rare forms of epilepsy).”

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Photo courtesy of GW Pharma. 

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