Decisive moment looms for UK maker of medical marijuana
Trial results for Epidiolex crucial for GW Pharma — first British company to test cannabinoid market
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For Justin Gover, the next few weeks could be the most important of his career. Since 1999, the chief executive of GW Pharmaceuticals has led an audacious push to make medicines from marijuana. Imminent results from trials of Epidiolex, an experimental drug for childhood epilepsy, will go a long way to determining the UK company’s chance of success.
Positive data would support analysts’ forecasts for blockbuster sales of more than $1bn a year and strengthen GW’s position at the forefront of a new category of “cannabinoid” therapies that Mr Gover believes could eventually treat conditions as diverse as schizophrenia and diabetes. “This is what we’ve been working towards for 16 years,” he says. “I’m excited but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have some nerves.”
Mr Gover’s story is not just about his efforts to bring credibility to the hazy world of medical marijuana. It is also a case study in divergent attitudes to risk between investors in the US and Europe.
GW was starved of cash and unloved by the stock market for most of its first decade as a quoted company in London, but since adopting a dual listing on Nasdaq in 2013 it has raised $450m. “Epidiolex would not exist today without US investors because we simply could not have raised the cash,” says Mr Gover.