COMBINED sales of the three most lucrative cannabis pharmaceuticals products – Epidiolex, Dronabinol and Sativex – are set to reach €1.8 billion by 2025, according to a new report.
The Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition, from global cannabis industry consultants Prohibition Partners, finds that research on the endocannabinoid system is one of the most promising – and potentially lucrative – avenues for new therapeutics in medicine at the moment.
The report highlights how the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of medical conditions, from pain and spasticity to PTSD and epileptic seizures, offers major opportunities, with the current global spend on non-cannabinoid-based pain medications worldwide estimated at US$63-85bn a year.
To date, no single cannabinoid-based drug has received widespread approval for the treatment of pain, despite the fact that this is by far the most common condition for which medical cannabis is used.
40% Of Cannabis Use Is Medicinal
The market for pharmaceutical products which leverage the endocannabinoid system to treat illness remains largely untapped. With 200 million people using cannabis globally each year, paired with insights from Prohibition Partners’ global surveys of cannabis users in 2020, studies indicate that around 40% of cannabis users have some medical component to their usage.
The understanding of what cannabinoids can be used for in the medical setting has largely been patient-led to date, with research often following in lieu of common consumption of cannabis for a given condition.
Epidolex® is currently the leading cannabinoid pharmaceutical, garnering over €430m in sales in 2020 and serving an estimated population of more than 20,000. The producer of the drug, GW Pharmaceuticals, has taken over 20 years to generate significant sales and faced many setbacks in clinical trials. However, sales are now growing at a rapid pace, so much so that the firm has now been acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth over €6bn.
Prohibition Partners’ The Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition report identifies at least 30 late-stage clinical trials using cannabinoids therapeutics, any of which could have a large impact on the medical cannabis space. Products with new routes of administration are making their way through the approval process, whereas research and development on minor cannabinoids with a lot of therapeutic promise is just beginning.
It is thought that around 250 clinical trials using compounds that target the ECS are carried out each year. There is plenty of room for growth in these figures considering the central metabolic role played by the ECS.
Potential Of Cannabis Still To Be Realized
The potential for the use of medical cannabinoids in the pharmaceutical space has barely been scratched. In the medium-to-long term, the report suggests that a range of new cannabinoid therapeutics will be approved across the globe. Operators in the space can expect to see these products take up market share at the expense of unapproved flower and oils in the next decade.
Barbara Pastori, director of strategy and data at Prohibition Partners, said: “The goal of establishing oneself in the medical cannabis space is very much a moving target. The balance of approved and unapproved products is constantly shifting, and new innovations in the highly medicalised sector of cannabis promise to upend some of the current status quo in the industry.
“As such, Prohibition Partners offers this report along with our consulting services to anyone seeking to understand where they fit in this rapidly evolving industry. We provide industry-leading insights and strategic advice to anyone seeking to establish or develop their position in the value chain.”
Conor O’Brien, author of the report and analyst at Prohibition Partners said: “Many operators in the medical cannabis space are blind to the risks and opportunities arising from cutting edge developments in clinical trials of cannabinoid medicines, the synthetic cannabinoid space, and the innovations in delivery formats and devices.
“This report details the state of play for medical cannabis technologies and treatments which will inevitably occupy a large share of the medical cannabis market moving forward, with implications for all patients, regulators and operators in the space.”
The Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition takes an in-depth look at the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of medical conditions and how this poses both challenges and opportunities for anyone operating in the space. The report unearths a clearer picture of what lies ahead for the pharmaceutical cannabis sector.
The Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition summary can be downloaded here.