Marijuana News Roundup: Medical Marijuana Could Cost Big Pharma $4 Billion

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If medical marijuana were legal in all 50 states and if marijuana were used to treat just nine conditions for which it has shown to be effective, the pharmaceutical industry would have lost $4.41 billion in 2016 and that total could rise to $4.86 billion by 2019.

According to a report from analytics firm New Frontier Data, the eight conditions for which cannabis is an effective treatment generated $168.34 billion in sales for the pharmaceutical industry last year. These conditions were identified in a report from the National Academies of Sciences as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, anxiety, epilepsy, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette’s Syndrome, and glaucoma. The three on which Americans spent the most last year were chronic pain ($14.3 billion), PTSD ($10.6 billion), and sleep disorders ($6.13 billion).

The report is based on research reported last February from the University of Georgia that showed Medicare spending on opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Hydrocodone, and Fentanyl could have been reduced by $220 million if medical marijuana were legal in all 50 states. Total savings would amount to around 11% of Medicare costs for opioids.

New Frontier Data used that 11% figure to extrapolate from the total spending on prescriptions for the nine conditions for which cannabis may be substituted. The Cannabist has a table that shows the potential impact on prescription medication for each condition for the years 2016 through 2019.

GW to File Cannabis Drug as Journal Confirms Epilepsy Success
GW Pharmaceuticals is set to file its cannabis-derived drug with U.S. regulators imminently, following publication of detailed data on its success in fighting severe childhood epilepsy.

GW first reported in March 2016 that Epidiolex cut monthly convulsive seizures by 39 percent in children with Dravet syndrome, but full results of the 120-patient study were only published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

The journal article also showed that 5 percent of patients stopped having seizures altogether and 43 percent saw their seizures cut by half.

GW’s medicine, which is given as a syrup, is a purified form of cannabidiol, one of the active ingredients found in marijuana. It contains less than 0.1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance that makes people high.

Stephen Wright, GW’s chief medical officer, said the company would submit its application to the Food and Drug Administration by mid-year, with a filing in Europe following a little later in 2017.

Read more at Reuters.