After November rollout, GW Pharma says Epidiolex positioned for strong growth

GW Pharma growing area for CBD Epidiolex
GW Pharma grows cannabis plants in England for Epidiolex. (GW Pharmaceuticals)

GW Pharmaceuticals may be the first drugmaker to roll out a cannabis-based drug in the U.S., but it's unlikely to be the last—and that's why so many are keeping an eye on GW's Epidiolex launch.

So far, so good, executives and analysts said when GW rolled out its fourth quarter results last week. Between Epidiolex's launch in November and year's end, the drug managed to bring in $4.7 million—not a huge haul, but respectable for a new drug in a new category.

For the rollout, the company staffed up with 66 sales reps to target 5,000 potential prescribers, and more than 500 of them have now written scripts for their patients. About 4,500 new patient enrollment forms were submitted by the end of the year, GW executives said during the fourth-quarter earnings call.

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The drug appears to be gathering some momentum, too: Script numbers jumped by 150% from December to January, they said.

RELATED: GW Pharma looks to dispel cannabis stigma with Epidiolex launch

Epidiolex won FDA approval last June to treat seizures from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, but couldn't launch until after the DEA officially rescheduled it out of the illegal-drug category.

GW execs said sales should keep ramping up as Epidiolex scores more payer coverage and expands distribution, and as early access patients move into commercial sales. Plus, current patients should move up to higher doses, which will boost sales by itself. and the company is still working to expand its distribution network.

RELATED: FDA greenlights GW's Epidiolex, the first U.S. drug made from marijuana

Next, the company is aiming to expand Epidiolex's reach into tuberous sclerosis complex and Rett syndrome, CEO Justin Gover said during the call. And it's looking forward to expanding geographically with a European launch.

Overall, Evercore ISI analyst Josh Schimmer wrote that it’s still early days, but signals so far “are very strong and should propel growth.” GW’s shares jumped 14% on last Tuesday after the update.

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