Jazz Pharmaceuticals announced the signing of a definitive agreement for it to acquire GW Pharmaceuticals and holdings that include Epidiolex, an approved oral cannabinoid treatment for seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) patients.
“We are excited to add GW’s industry-leading cannabinoid platform, innovative pipeline and products, which will strengthen and broaden our neuroscience portfolio,” Bruce Cozadd, chairman and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, said in a press release. “We look forward to welcoming the GW team to Jazz to build an even stronger company.”
Epidiolex, GW’s lead product, is an oral cannabidiol (or CBD) solution, derived from the cannabis or marijuana plant, with strong anti-seizure, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, meaning it does not have the characteristic “high” effect. It mimics certain natural compounds that can interact with brain receptors which, when defective, can trigger seizures.
Although its exact mechanism of action is not fully known, some evidence suggests that it works to regulate the endocannabinoid system, found within the brain and spinal cord, which controls the release of certain hormones and the activity of nerve cells.
The therapy is approved in the U.S. to treat seizures associated with LGS and Dravet syndrome in patients 1 year old or older. In Europe, it is approved under the brand name Epidyolex as an add-on therapy to clobazam in children ages 2 and older.
GW has a pipeline of other cannabinoid product candidates, including Sativex (nabiximols), an oral spray that is in late-stage clinical testing for multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.
Other therapy candidates are being evaluated in clinical trials for indications that include autism and schizophrenia.
“GW has built an unparalleled global leadership position in cannabinoid science, including the successful launch of Epidiolex, a breakthrough product within the field of epilepsy, and a diverse and robust neuroscience pipeline,” said Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals.
Under this agreement, Jazz will acquire GW for $220 per share — $200 in cash and $20 in ordinary shares — for a total of $7.2 billion. The transaction is expected to be finalized by June.
“We have a shared vision of developing and commercializing innovative medicines that address significant unmet needs in neuroscience,” Gover said of the combined company.