UK down-schedules CBD drug to lowest level for controlled drugs

The United Kingdom has down-scheduled Epidyolex to the lowest level of control for drugs, greatly easing restrictions on the cannabidiol medicine and reducing red tape for companies that supply it.

The new classification came into force Wednesday.

“This will reduce administrative processes for companies wanting to supply Epidyolex to patients with severe epilepsy,” according to the government’s announcement.

Epidyolex is the trade name in Europe for Epidiolex.

In the U.S., the CBD drug was down-scheduled in 2018 and removed entirely from the controlled-substances list in April.

London-based GW Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Epidyolex, cheered the move. Among other things, the change extends the length of time for a valid prescription.

“The decision to move Epidyolex to a low level of control is an important one for patients, their families, health-care professionals, pharmacists and the (National Health Service) as a whole – reducing costs and ensuring the medicine can be dispensed more easily,” Chris Tovey, GW Pharma’s chief operating officer, said in a news release.

The U.K. allowed doctors to prescribe Epidyolex in 2018. A year later, the European Commission followed suit.

GW ended 2019 with $311.3 million in sales.

GW Pharma trades on the Nasdaq as GWPH.