High Price for First Cannabis Drug

GW Pharmaceuticals introduced Epidiolex (cannabidiol) with a $32,500 list price.

Epidiolex (cannabidiol) received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in late June 2018 for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older. 

The drug has reached the market and is now available by prescription. While many are celebrating the approval of the first drug based on compounds found in marijuana, many are criticizing the high list price of the drug set by developer GW Pharmaceuticals.

The company has set a list price for Epidiolex of $32,500 per year, which has resulted in outcries on social media. GW Pharma says the price is reasonable given that the drug is a rare disease therapy specifically approved to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes an that it is in line with similar FDA-approved anti-epileptics. 

The company is offering a patient support program that includes coverage of some out-of-pocket costs. It is also working with payers, presenting plans that would cover a significant portion of patients, with estimated out-of-pocket costs of less than $10 per month for Medicaid patients and less than $35 per month for commercial patients on average. 

One of the biggest challenges faced by the company is to demonstrate to both doctors and patients how FDA-approved Epidiolex is dramatically different from cannabis oil found in marijuana shops.


Cynthia A. Challener, Ph.D.

Dr. Challener is an established industry editor and technical writing expert in the areas of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. She writes for various corporations and associations, as well as marketing agencies and research organizations, including That’s Nice and Nice Insight.