Weed Week: Finally, a cannabis drug is on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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A cannabis-based drug has been listed on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the first time, as medical marijuana gains increased acceptance.
The move means that an estimated 116 Aussies with a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome will pay just $41.30 per script for their prescription of Epidyloex, rather than more than $24,000 each year for the treatment.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the move last Friday.
A twice-daily oral solution, Epidyolex is made by British cannabinoid drugmaker GW Pharma, which Jazz Pharmaceuticals in February agreed to buy in a blockbuster US$7.2 billion ($9.4 billion) takeover.
Epidyolex was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in September as a treatment for Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, based on results from four randomised, controlled Phase 3 trials.
Cassandra Hunt, managing director of an Australian chain of medicinal cannabis clinics known as CA Clinics, called the PBS registration “great news for sufferers of Dravet syndrome, and sets a precedent for more affordable patient access to future medicinal cannabis products registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.”
While the PBS approval was a glimmer of good news for the ASX cannabis space, otherwise it’s been a pretty lousy fortnight, at least from an investing perspective.
In the two weeks from April 21 through Wednesday afternoon, just six of the 36 companies involved in the marijuana space had gained ground. Twenty-five had lost it and five were flat.
Australian Primary Hemp (ASX:APH) has been the biggest gainer, up 19.8 per cent in the fortnight to 48.5c. The company last month announced a second two-year supply deal with family-owned health and snack food company Annex Foods, which will use APH’s hemp meal for products under the Red Tractor brand.
Ecofibre (ASX:EOF) has been the worst laggard, down 29.3 per cent in the last two weeks. It was up 10.1 per cent yesterday, however, after announcing sales of its nutraceutical products for humans and pets had rebounded as pandemic-related disruptions subsided.
Ecofibre confirmed earnings guidance in February, that it expects to lose $1.5 million in the half-year.