When the FDA approved the first cannabis-derived CBD treatment Epidiolex from GW Pharmaceuticals earlier this year, the task then fell to the DEA to seal the deal with their own approval – or not – within 90 days of June 25th.
With less than a month remaining on that deadline, news or even rumors from the DEA on how they plan to rule on the issue have been non-existent leaving most observers in the cannabis community on the edge of their seats in anticipation.
To approve the new drug, the common thought is that the US federal government will be forced to either remove the cannabis plant from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act or at least linguistically separate the CBD compound from the plant and deschedule that.
Unfortunately, the most likely outcome will not be the removal of cannabis or its CBD compound from Schedule I, instead the specific drug Epidiolex itself will probably just be given its own scheduling, opening the door to its official legal launch in pharmacies across the country.
That the anti-seizure medication will be sold legally in the US, one way or another, before the end of this calendar year is pretty much the only thing that most everyone agrees on.
GW Pharma sure seems confident in the ultimate passage of their product, having already hired two national directors, eight regional managers, and 66 account managers that will begin schmoozing the roughly 5,000 physicians who treat patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome that the drug is intended to treat.
Once the DEA is out of the way, industry experts predict that GW Pharma will rake in upwards of $30 million off of Epidiolex sales in the waning months of 2018. Next year they predict as much as $180 million in revenue, and that number could jump to as much as $1.5 BILLION by 2023.
This fortune will be amassed on the backs of extremely sick kids suffering from intractable epilepsy.
It has already shown its effectiveness in treating these cases, and patients should absolutely have the right to access it, but the proposed price tag is sure to be prohibitive for some families.
GW Pharma is on record stating that a full yearlong regimen of Epidiolex will cost $32,500.
Compare that to the cost of a relative amount of grey or black market cannabis-derived CBD oil which might run just over $3,000 for a full year’s treatment.
The company is quick to point out that with the full blessing of the federal government, the drug will be eligible for insurance coverage, which they say could drop the costs to as low as $200/month.
That’s more like it, though still steep… but what about the families who are not insured, or are burdened with massive deductibles?
One investment ‘expert’ from Cantor Fitzgerald even went on record saying that the financial firm was forced to lower its 12-month forecast on the GW Pharma stock price because his company expected GW Pharma to put a larger price tag on the groundbreaking medicine.
Partisan politics, annual revenue reports, stock value appraisals, butthurt investors – all seem to take precedence over healing sick kids who cannot find relief elsewhere.
If even one child is denied this life-altering medication based not just on bullshit laws that we’ve been fighting for decades, but for ever-increasing corporate revenues, then it’ll be easy to point to the real criminals.