Updated December 1, 2020


GW Pharmaceuticals is positioned differently than most other companies that produce medical cannabis. Founded in the United Kingdom in 1998 to cultivate and research medicinal uses of cannabis, rather than operating within the traditional realm of medical cannabis sales and waiting for countries to open their medical markets before moving in, GW has been focused on developing cannabis-derived pharmaceutical drugs. GW was the first company to develop a prescription medicine derived from the cannabis plant with its creation of Sativex (Nabiximols), and has since begun marketing Epidyolex - its CBD product - in European markets. Though GW has a business model similar to that of a traditional pharmaceutical company, products such as Sativex are nonetheless in direct competition with medical cannabis firms and products as they are typically prescribed by the same physicians and sold through the same channels. GW retains marketing authorization rights for the United Kingdom, but its Sativex product is distributed by pharmaceutical company Almirall elsewhere in Europe.


Sativex is the world's first prescription cannabis-derived medicine in Europe and is commonly used to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. The product is a 100ml bottle of oral spray which contains a roughly 1:1 ratio (2.7mg of THC and 2.5mg of CBD) in each spritz.

In addition to producing medicines with THC, GW also creates cannabis-derived medicines which are CBD-only. Epidiolex (deemed Epidyolex in Europe) is a cannabidiol product that was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, and approved for European launch in September 2019. Commercialization is currently underway in the UK and Germany, while launches are expected in Italy, France and Spain in late 2020-H1 2021, following pricing and reimbursement negotiations.

GW also has plans in place for the second wave launch, which will include ten additional European markets.



Sativex is approved in 25 countries, is available for medical usage in the UK and distributed throughout much of Europe, whereas Epidyolex is undergoing its first wave of launches in five markets. Though GW has managed to receive a large number of approvals, that does not mean that its products are actively distributed in each of those nations. Some countries where Sativex has been an approved medicinal for years, such as France, have yet to commence sales because the distributor and the government cannot agree on a retail price. Thus far, marketing authorization for Sativex has been received and distribution has commenced in Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Source: Brightfield Group 2020

Strengths and Opportunities

  • Product approved in several countries where formal medical cannabis programs do not yet exist
  • Long history in Europe with established channels of distribution
  • Consistent, pharmaceutical-grade product
  • Conducting clinical research in order to find new health conditions which may be treated by cannabis, including two products currently on market
  • Expansion of product lines to include more numerous THC:CBD ratios
  • Decreasing cost of products in order to enter more markets and better compete with unlicensed medical cannabis products

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