A marijuana-derived drug that recently became the first of its kind to win federal approval is not going to be cheap.
Called Epidiolex, the drug is designed to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy using a cannabis compound called cannabidiol (or CBD) .
On a call with investors this week, British-based GW Pharmaceuticals, who makes the drug, said it would cost roughly $32,500 per year. The medication does not contain THC, the well-known psychoactive component of marijuana responsible for the drug’s characteristic high.
Julian Gangolli, who leads GW’s commercialization efforts in the US, said the price point would keep Epidiolex in line with other epilepsy drugs and was largely based on feedback from insurance companies.
Gangolli also said that he expected the wait time to receive the medication — after patients get a prescription from a clinician — to be three weeks, on average. But before any prescriptions for Epidiolex can be written, the Drug Enforcement Administration must reschedule its active ingredient, the marijuana compound CBD.
Currently, CBD is scheduled alongside marijuana as a schedule 1 drug with “no currently accepted medical use.” Beginning on June 25 when Epidiolex was approved, the agency had 90 days to reschedule or reclassify it as a schedule 2, 3, 4, or 5 substance.
“We don’t have a choice on that,” DEA public affairs officer Barbara Carreno told Business Insider in June. “It absolutely has to become Schedule 2, 3, 4, or 5.”