Here’s Why No One Will Purchase The First FDA Approved Cannabis Drug

Here’s Why No One Will Buy The First FDA Approved Cannabis Drug

The pro-legalization media has been enamored with Epidiolex, the first FDA approved cannabis medication. But little besides the fact that the FDA finally approved a weed-related medication has received any attention. When will the medication come to market, who will be able to buy it? Just because medical marijuana is legal doesn’t make it accessible. This is particularly true for Epidiolex, which will cost a small fortune yearly, and cost out pretty much anyone who could benefit from a marijuana drug that reduces migraines.

CBD Can Treat Seizures

Seizures, which can vary in severity from occasional to happening dozens of times a day, are a common painful condition. Certain forms of epileptic seizures disproportionately affect children, which can impede developmental growth, prevent them from going to college or sleeping and cause emotional trauma.

Not only can cannabis treat seizures, but it’s often the very best medicine. Unlike some other developed areas of cannabis medicine, research shows that CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, can reduce seizures. A game-changing newspaper published by the British Epilepsy Association back in 2012 reasoned, “The evidence strongly supports CBD as a therapeutic candidate for a diverse range of human epilepsies. ”

Since then, families have come forward time and time again citing CBD as the only thing which prevented their children from having seizures–no matter what the government says. A year after his mom started giving him hemp oil, she claims her toddler called Silas hasn’t undergone a single seizure. Other parents, like Ashely Surin‘s in Illinois, have struggled to give kids access to medical marijuana in schools to stop seizures.

Due to enormous public support, most states with medical marijuana programs now include epilepsy as a qualifying condition. Parents in others are pushing to amend laws to include children, particularly those with chronic seizures from conditions like autism and epilepsy.

Numerous pills scattered on a table top. (Jamie/Flickr)

Epidiolex, manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals is your first FDA-approved cannabis medication. It’s made from cannabidiol oil (CBD), which means it won’t get you high.

Last week, a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that Epidiolex, a CBD medication, effectively reduces seizures. The research found that people who took 20 mg demonstrated a 40 percent reduction in seizures. The next group, which took 10 mg, experienced a similar reduction of 37 percent. All of them had Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which is a serious form of epilepsy.

This is only one of a few of the Epidiolex studies, paid for by GW Pharmaceutics, conducted on humans and animals. In the aftermath of glowing reviews, the FDA approved the medication. Needless to say, this is a historic moment in the cannabis and pharma sector ’s checkered history (to say the least). But will anyone actually be able to take this cannabis medication?

This Cannabis Drug Costs More Than You Make

This adds up to an astounding minimum of $30,000, and possibly as much as $60,000 annually. Since epilepsy is a chronic condition, patients suffering from it use drugs for life. As it stands, paying for the FDA approved cannabis medication would be roughly equivalent to putting someone through private college every year.

The average American household (meaning everyone in a household ) earns roughly $50,000 each year. This means that the huge majority of Americans make less than what this drug will cost. Even fewer Americans will be able to afford it when factoring in living expenses.

Drug Companies Don’t Want To Purchase Expensive Medication

CBD Is On Billboards In Japan For The First Time

Elixinol on display at the CWCB Expo.

Well, what about health insurance? Only 8.8 percent of Americans have health insurance. And even that 8.8 percent would need to pay out of pocket. Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail before covering a medication that expensive for that long.

Look back at how hard insurance companies have worked to prevent paying for legal HIV medications. In 2015, the Daily Beast broke the story of a guy whose insurance company stopped paying for Truvada as an HIV preventative medication. He was just one of several in southern nations whose insurance providers abruptly stopped covering the medication. Following this negative press, the business has since changed its tune.

And Truvada costs only $13,000 a year. Insurance companies have legal reasons not to cover cannabis medication.  Why would they pay for an expensive, scheduled material which has no medical value according to the federal government?

Medical cannabis cases have already gone to court. Only last week, a New Jersey judge ruled that a state worker was entitled to medical marijuana. This follows a ruling in Maine that an employer did not need to cover a worker ’s work injury-related pain. Despite the New Jersey case, the Maine ruling will probably be the norm. It’s hard, if not illegal, to force an insurance company to cover something unnaturally illegal.

Epidiolex Will Be Expensive Even After Legalization

If all goes well and we legalize medical marijuana federally, and health insurance companies start partially covering medical cannabis, this medication will probably still be unaffordable. Even if you cut the cost of Epidiolex in half to $1,250-$2,500 monthly, that’s still $15,000 to $30,000 each year. More people would be able to afford it than before, though not many.

The brief answer is no. It will be two decades before GW Pharmaceuticals’ patent on the first FDA approved cannabis drug expires. This could indicate that the cost stays fixed, or comparatively high, until 2038.

The Ground-Breaking Cannabis Drug No One Will Require

Here’s Why No One Will Buy The First FDA Approved Cannabis Drug

(Photo Courtesy of GW Pharmaceuticals)

Overall, it is good news that the FDA finally approved a cannabis medication. Epilepsy is a difficult and dangerous condition, so the more options available the better. Plus, most Americans are more comfortable taking a medication in pill form rather than using what they perceive to being medicinal rather than medical cannabis.

All this begs the question: if CBD oil can treat migraines, why do we want a medication manufactured by a pharmaceutical company? Some say that having large pharma involved guarantees higher testing standards. Others argue that testing is skewed, and the FDA has evolved to work with large pharma at the expense of patients who would benefit from more natural remedies.

Regardless of your choice about the larger question of large pharma and cannabis, 1 thing is for certain: no one can afford this cannabis medication. Though CBD for epilepsy is arguably too pricey currently –$100 to $600 monthly according to the Colorado Epilepsy Foundation– but Epidiolex takes it to a whole other level.

Published at Wed, 18 Jul 2018 19:08:52 +0000

Posted in: News

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