GW Pharma to launch first CBD-based epilepsy drug in Europe 'over the next year or two,’ CEO says – CNBC

GW Pharma has been cleared to market the first plant-derived cannabis-based medicine in Europe to treat epilepsy conditions, CEO Justin Gover told CNBC’s Jim Cramer Tuesday.

European Union officials this week approved the use of Epidyolex to treat seizures in patients with two rare, severe forms of childhood-onset epilepsy and GW Pharma executives are optimistic about its prospects across the pond.

„We have 28 countries now in Europe that have approved Epidyolex,” Gover said in a „Mad Money” interview. „We’ll be launching these countries over the next year or two and there’s a market of 500 million people in Europe and we’re very excited.”

France, Germany and the United Kingdom are expected first in line for releases in the fourth quarter, while Spain and Italy are slated for 2020.

The CBD medicine first launched in the United States as Epidiolex in late 2018 after the federal government approved it to treat seizures that are associated with Lennox-Gastautsyndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients two years of age or older. GW Pharma has seen strong sales in the fist half of 2019 with more than 12,000 patients being prescribed the oral solution. The British drug company projects there are 3.4 million people living with epilepsy in America.

Epidiolex was the first FDA-approved cannabis-based drug. Legal use of most CBD-based products were made possible after President Donald Trump signed the farm bill in December, which dropped industrial hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances.

„As a parent, looking at children have seizures daily and who have exhausted treatment options … there really has been a sense of hopelessness [in families] and I think what Epidiolex has provided is a renewed sense of hope,” Gover said, „and I think we’re seeing that in the United States with thousands of patients now on this medication and I think the world is there ready to accept this, also.”

Gover said that GW Pharma continues to study Epidiolex’s use for other rare epilepsy conditions. Epidiolex has established a pipeline for the company in the cannabinoid space and some of the challenges will be „prioritizing those opportunities” in a list that includes multiple sclerosis and autism, among others, he said.

„We are the company to make that happen. I see very few alternative organizations that I think have the wherewithal, the science, the reputation and the track record to make cannabinoids a reality across other disease states,” Gover said.

Shares of GW Pharma closed down more than 6% Tuesday. While the stock is up more than 21% in 2019, it has been marred in recent months by the slide in cannabis-related stocks.

WATCH: Cramer chats with GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover

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