GW Pharmaceuticals Up on Encouraging Schizophrenia Data

GW Pharmaceuticals plc GWPH was up 7.6% after the company announced encouraging top-line data from an exploratory phase IIa study on cannabidiol in patients suffering from schizophrenia who had previously failed to respond adequately to first-line anti-psychotic medications.

In the multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, six-week, phase II study, patients remained on their anti-psychotic medication and were randomized to receive either cannabidiol or placebo as an adjunct therapy.

Over a series of exploratory endpoints, cannabidiol was found to be consistently superior to placebo. In the cognition domain, cannabidiol demonstrated superiority to placebo with marked differences in sub-domains of particular relevance to improving the outlook for people suffering from schizophrenia. Meanwhile, the Scale for Assessment of Negative Symptoms showed a trend in favor of cannabidiol which reached statistical significance for patients taking cannabidiol together with one of the leading first-line anti-psychotic medications. We note that the majority of other endpoints in the study were in favor of cannabidiol and several achieved statistical significance. The safety profile of the candidate was impressive.

Schizophrenia represents a lucrative market. Leading drugs in this market include Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ Risperdal and Eli Lilly and Company’s LLY Zyprexa (olanzapine), among others.

GW Pharma’s pipeline includes another cannabidiol-based drug, Epidiolex. Epidiolex is currently in phase III development for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The company plans to initiate another phase III study on Epidiolex for the treatment of tuberous sclerosis complex.

GW Pharma is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN is a better-ranked stock in the health care sector, carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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