New marijuana-based epilepsy treatment to cost $32,500 a year

GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of a new marijuana-based treatment for rare types of epilepsy, said Wednesday it will charge approximately $32,500 per patient annually in the United States.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of a new marijuana-based treatment for rare types of epilepsy, said Wednesday it will charge approximately $32,500 per patient annually in the United States. The drug, cannabidiol (Epidiolex), received FDA approval in June to treat seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients aged 2 years and older. FDA has stated that GW Pharmaceuticals' drug does not cause the euphoria that comes from tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of marijuana. According to company CEO Justin Gover, the drug's price was set to be in line with other brand-name epilepsy medications. "We wanted to make sure we were pricing Epidiolex in such a way where the means to access this medication would be consistent with branded epilepsy drugs these patients already use," he said. Julian Gangolli, president of the drug company's North American unit, said in a conference call with analysts that patients' out-of-pocket costs for Epidiolex could be $5-$10 monthly for those in state Medicaid programs, or up to $200 a month for some private insurance plans. Individuals without insurance may be able to obtain the drug free of charge. GW Pharmaceuticals said it plans to make Epidiolex available after DEA assigns it a controlled-substance classification.