Cannabis-based drug firm eyes US surge

Deeper losses sent the shares of Cambridge UK medical technology business GW Pharmaceuticals heading south but it has laid the foundations for a potential US bonanza.

The company saw more than 6.5 per cent shaved off its share price as its third quarter results showed revenue for the three months ended June 30 halved year-on-year  – down to £7.3 million from £14.5m. The 2012 figure was inflated by a £9.8m milestone payment.

The company – developing novel therapeutics from its cannabinoid product platform – lost £2m after tax compared to a profit of £7.9m last time, which primarily reflected the impact of the milestone payment.

But a fundraising allied to a NASDAQ float in the US has given GW a handsome warchest. At the end of June it had cash and equivalents of £43.6m compared to £29.3m at September 30, 2012.

The company is pinning future revenue growth and profitability on the progress being made with its lead product Sativex in Europe and – looking further ahead – in the United States.

GW has two pivotal Sativex Phase 3 cancer pain trials in recruitment. Top-line results from both trials are due in 2014. The data is intended to lead to a New Drug Application (NDA) filing with the FDA in the US.

Sativex as a treatment for MS spasticity has already gained major traction throughout Europe, most recently in Italy – a move which earned a £250k milestone payment. France is due to be next to come on-board.

CEO Justin Gover said the long-term potential of the group was looking extremely healthy. He said: “Following our successful Nasdaq listing in May, GW has established an important new US shareholder base and further enhanced its robust financial position.

“GW continues to make good progress with the US Phase 3 development of Sativex as a treatment for cancer pain and is also now advancing plans for the US development of Sativex as a treatment for MS spasticity.

“The recent launch of Sativex in Italy and new regulatory application in France are expected to support further commercial progress in Europe and provide important validation for Sativex and GW’s position as a world leader in cannabinoid science.

“As we move forward in the second half of 2013, we expect a significant amount of clinical activity to occur with respect to our cannabinoid pipeline candidates.”

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