The Epidiolex cost has been revealed.
Epidiolex is the first medication derived from cannabis to receive FDA approval. It achieved this milestone in June of this year and marked a turning point in recognizing cannabis as a serious and viable treatment for certain ailments.
Epidiolex was created to treat two very rare forms of epilepsy which occur mostly in young children; Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which both can cause hundreds of seizures per day.
It works, as its main ingredient is cannabidiol or CBD.
Now, the Epidiolex cost has been unveiled and it ain’t cheap. But was it ever really going to be?
The Epidiolex Cost
The company behind the drug — GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) —revealed the cost in an investor call on Tuesday and it will set patients back an estimated $32,500 per patient, annually.
To put that in perspective, you can buy a brand new 2o18 Nissan Leaf car for $10 less.
The cost estimation is based on an average of patient weight and dosage. And in defense of its huge cost, GW Pharmaceuticals say that it was comparable to other drugs used to treat severe forms of epilepsy.
GW Pharmaceutical CEO Justin Gover spoke about the drug during the conference call:
“This first U.S. approval not only represents a transformative milestone for our company but a historic medical breakthrough, offering patients and their families the first and only FDA approved CBD medicine to treat two severe, childhood-onset epilepsies […] These deserving patients will soon have access to a cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and available by prescription under a physician’s care.”
The good news is that for patients with health insurance, the cost will be far less, ranging anywhere between $5 and $100 a month.
“The cost of a co-pay [for Epidiolex] is significantly—or could be significantly—less onerous and burdensome than the cost of the product either over the internet or from [a] dispensary,” said GW Pharmaceuticals North American President, Julian Gangolli.
CBD Must Be Rescheduled
The next step is to reschedule Epidiolex before it can be prescribed for patients in the US. As CBD is the pertinent ingredient of the medication, the DEA must reschedule the designation of CBD under the Controlled Substances Act.
Currently, CBD is listed as Schedule 1. The schedule 1 classification is reserved for substances which have “no recognized medical value and a high potential for abuse.”
Barbara Carreno, a DEA public affairs officer, said that the agency is currently in the process of reviewing the classification for CBD and it should be expected very soon.