The First FDA-Approved CBD Drug Is Raking in Money
The cannabis-derived medication Epidiolex has made $33.5 million in sales since January. Now, experts predict the CBD industry could soon garner upwards of $20 billion a year.
Published on May 7, 2019

According to GW Pharmaceuticals’ Q1 sales report, Epidiolex sales brought in $33.5 million between January and March 2019.

Last year, Epidiolex became the first weed-derived pharmaceutical approved by the US FDA. The drug’s active ingredient is CBD, and it’s only approved for difficult-to-treat seizure disorders, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, doctors may soon be able to prescribe it for tubular sclerosis, as well, if it passes Phase III clinical trials for the specific condition.

Currently, there are over 7,600 patients in the US with Epidiolex prescriptions, issued by over 1,900 doctors. GW Pharma announced it would soon make the CBD drug available in European markets, too.

Epidiolex’s surprising success prompted one marketing firm to credit the drug’s FDA approval for the global CBD market’s rapid growth. Reports and Data estimated, worldwide, CBD products could garner up to $16 billion in sales by 2026. The firm said today’s CBD industry is worth about $1.4 billion.

Other marketing analyses predict a much brighter future for CBD, with estimates reaching $22 billion in sales as early as 2022.

GW Pharma and its American subsidiary, Greenwich Biosciences, has caught flak for the price of its potentially blockbuster drug. A year’s worth of Epidiolex costs $32,500, significantly more than most non-FDA-approved CBD oils available at marijuana retail stores and medical dispensaries.

In 2017, GW Pharma’s CEO, Justin Gover, told MERRY JANE that the company differs from other CBD manufacturers because it offers a precisely dosed pharmaceutical formulation of the popular cannabinoid. Recent studies have shown that some CBD products contain dangerous adulterants, and some don’t even contain CBD at all.

Epidiolex’s FDA approval makes the drug legal everywhere in the US with a prescription, even in states that prohibit medical marijuana. Federal marijuana prohibition has kept other CBD products stuck in a legal gray area, as some states tolerate them and others don't.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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