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GW Pharma to Finish Cannabis Drug Trials for Cancer in 2013

GW Pharmaceuticals Plc, a U.K. maker of cannabis-based drugs, expects to complete the third phase of clinical trials on a cancer pain treatment by late 2013 to expand sales of the drug beyond multiple sclerosis.

Sales of the drug, called Sativex, to treat cancer pain may be twice the amount generated for the treatment of muscle stiffness from MS, Managing Director Justin Gover said in an interview today. Peak annual sales of Sativex for MS may reach 150 million pounds ($234 million) in Europe, Edison Investment Research has forecast.

The Wiltshire, England-based drugmaker will focus on getting U.S. approval for the cancer pain indication and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. will market it there, Gover said. The company said in June that it had begun a second phase-three trial and a third will start in the first half of next year.

Cancer pain “is the more substantial of the commercial opportunities,” Gover said. “It will be in Europe as well.”

The drug has been developed as a “second-line treatment” for patients for whom other therapies have failed, he said.

Expanding in Europe

The drugmaker sells Sativex to treat MS in Germany, Spain, Denmark and the U.K. In the European market excluding the U.K., GW Pharma has Spain’s Almirall SA as a marketing partner. The company has submitted an application under the European Mutual Recognition Procedure to sell Sativex in additional countries, GW said earlier today. Products will likely be introduced in Italy, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic next year, it said.

The company has partnered with Bayer AG for the U.K. and Canada, and with Novartis AG for Asia.

GW Pharma’s net income from continuing operations fell 41 percent to 2.75 million pounds for the year ended Sept. 30, the company said in a statement today. The drug developer said it expects to post a loss next fiscal year as it increases research and development spending by as much as 50 percent from 6.4 million pounds this year.

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