By Emily Ledger
The UK’s most successful medical cannabis producer, GW Pharmaceuticals, recently announced that it a $7.2 billion takeover has been agreed with Jazz – a North American biotech company. The deal represents the largest takeover to date of a UK biotech company, according to the UK Bio Industry Association.
GW Pharmaceuticals became the first company to receive a Home Office license for the production of medical cannabis over 20 years ago. Since then, only one other company has been granted a license – this year – for cannabis cultivation in the UK.
The company is now set to be taken over by a rival NASDAQ-listed company, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, in a $7.2 billion deal. Shareholders have been advised to accept a $220 per share acquisition by Jazz Pharmaceuticals – of which $200 will be paid in cash alongside a $20
In 2018, GW Pharmaceuticals’ CBD-based medicine, Epidyolex/Epidiolex became the first medical cannabis product to be approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration. Epidyolex was also one of the only cannabis-based medicines recommended for use in the UK following the rescheduling of cannabis at the end of 2018.
Epidyolex is an antiseizure drug that is recommended as an add-on therapy in the treatment of refractible epilepsies such as Lennox Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
GW Pharmaceuticals currently has a number of other cannabis-based medications under development including a product for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The company has also been exploring potential products for autism and schitzophrenia.
As well as helping to bolster the neuroscience unit of Jazz, which has offices in Oxford and California and headquarters in Dublin, the deal promises a hefty payout for GW Pharmaceuticals founder and chairman. Geoffrey Guy, who launched GQ Pharmaceuticals in 1998 could stand to make around $90 million (£65 million).
Jazz Pharmaceuticals hsa developed a number of medications for cancer treatments in addition to a number of other condition. However, the drug is potentiall best known for its high-priced narcolepsy treatment Xyrem, which had sales of $1.64bn in 2019.