GW Pharmaceuticals announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug designation for Epidiolex, our product candidate that contains plant-derived Cannabidiol (CBD) as its active ingredient, for use in treating children with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of infantile-onset, genetic, drug-resistant epilepsy syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral liquid formulation of a highly purified extract of CBD, a non-psychoactive molecule from the cannabis plant. Following receipt of this orphan designation, GW anticipates holding a pre-IND meeting with the FDA in the near future to discuss a development plan for Epidiolex in Dravet syndrome.
Dravet syndrome is a rare pediatric epilepsy syndrome with a distinctive but complex electroclinical presentation. Onset of Dravet syndrome occurs during the first year of life with clonic and tonic-clonic seizures in previously healthy and developmentally normal infants. Prognosis is poor and patients typically develop intellectual disability and life-long ongoing seizures. There are approximately 5,440 patients with Dravet in the United States and an estimated 6,710 Dravet patients in Europe. These figures may be an underestimate as this syndrome is reportedly underdiagnosed.
In addition to GW's clinical development program for Epidiolex in Dravet syndrome, which is expected to commence in 2014, GW has also made arrangements to enable independent U.S. pediatric epilepsy specialists to treat high need pediatric epilepsy cases with Epidiolex immediately. To date in 2013, a total of seven "expanded access" INDs have been granted by the FDA to U.S. clinicians to allow treatment with Epidiolex of approximately 125 children with epilepsy. These children suffer from Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and other pediatric epilepsy syndromes. GW is aware of further interest from additional U.S. and ex-U.S. physicians to host similar INDs for Epidiolex. GW expects data generated under these INDs to provide useful observational data during 2014 on the effect of Epidiolex in the treatment of a range of pediatric epilepsy syndromes.