Feb 26, 2020 - Health

Cannabis-based drug is going mainstream

Epidiolex has a list price of $1,310 per bottle. Photo: GW Pharmaceuticals

Sales of the epilepsy drug Epidiolex hit almost $300 million in 2019, GW Pharmaceuticals reported Tuesday. Sales are expected to surpass a half-billion dollars this year as the drug gains more insurance coverage in Europe.

Why it matters: Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medication made from a substance in cannabis, and it's starting to take off.

Where things stand: Epidiolex got off the ground in 2018, and more doctors started to prescribe the medicine in 2019. Roughly 60% of patients taking Epidiolex are kids who suffer from rare diseases that cause seizures.

  • New launches in Germany, the U.K., France, Spain and Italy will help almost double Epidiolex sales this year, according to Wall Street analysts.
  • It also doesn't hurt that GW Pharmaceuticals raised the list price of Epidiolex by 6% this past January, from $1,235 per 100 mL bottle to $1,310 — even though nothing about the drug changed.

Go deeper: Pharma starting to see green with cannabis

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Drugmakers warn of medication shortages from coronavirus

Tourists with face masks walk through Union Square in New York City on Feb. 28. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Some of the largest drugmakers — including AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer — have said that the coronavirus outbreak could affect their supplies or sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: Drug shortages can end up being incredibly serious for patients, but they're not good for business either.

Go deeperArrowMar 2, 2020 - Health

Possible coronavirus drug causes poisonings in Nigeria

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nigeria is reporting two poisonings from the drug chloroquine, a drug that's been touted as a potential but as-yet unproven treatment for coronavirus, Bloomberg reports.

Reality check: Health officials are warning against self-medicating with the drug, whose safety and effectiveness for coronavirus patients has not been proven.

Go deeperArrowMar 21, 2020 - Health

Chloroquine, an old anti-malarial drug, takes the coronavirus spotlight

A worker checks the production of chloroquine in China. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The Trump administration is taking a very public interest in chloroquine, an old, cheap anti-malarial drug, as a potential coronavirus treatment, although it's way too soon to put much stock in its effectiveness.

What they're saying: The Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the drug can reduce the duration of patients' symptoms in mild to moderate cases, or to reduce "viral shedding," which helps prevent disease spread.

Go deeperArrowMar 20, 2020 - Health