Patents Suggest Cancer Treatments are Next for GW Pharmaceuticals After Epilepsy

GW Pharmaceuticals, purchased by Jazz Pharmaceuticals in May of 2021, has brought the cannabis spotlight onto itself, firstly by creating the largest cannabis-related patent portfolio and secondly by receiving the first FDA approval for a cannabis-based medication. GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex has been approved to treat Dravet Syndrome epilepsy first, then Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome epilepsy, and most recently tuberous sclerosis complex (noncancerous (benign) tumors). Now, GW Pharmaceuticals, along with other companies in this space, could be looking to treat more common cancers like leukaemia and lung cancers. 

GW Pharmaceuticals’s patent from May of 2021 specifies the use of THC and CBD to treat leukaemia, describing the combination of these cannabinoids to be effective in reducing the cell number count of this disease. This is GW Pharmaceuticals’ first issued patent describing the use of cannabinoids to treat leukaemia, but it isn’t its first patent dealing with treating cancer using cannabinoids. Dating all the way back to July of 2014 during GW Pharmaceuticals’ and Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s partnership work, we find a group of patents describing the use of cannabinoids to treat glioma, a brain and central nervous system tumour. As of July 2021, GW Pharmaceuticals has been granted 5 patents for treating gliomas with cannabinoids, 2 of which are jointly assigned to Otsuka Pharmaceutical. This shared assignment is due to the partnership terms, which involved a payment of $18 million to GW by Otsuka as well as Otsuka bearing the costs for US development activities for Sativex, a cannabinoid for the treatment of cancer pain. In exchange, Otsuka gained full rights to develop and market Sativex in the US. The deal came to an end in 2017 when Otsuka withdrew its rights to the drug, returning it back to GW Pharmaceuticals. The GW Pharmaceuticals pipeline doesn’t show a path for treating any of these cancers using cannabinoids just yet, but it very well may have future plans in light of Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ activities. 

In June of 2020, Jazz Pharmaceuticals received FDA accelerated approval to treat metastatic small cell lung cancer with its drug Zepzelca™. With Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ experience in cancer research and drug development, GW Pharmaceuticals could be setting up to dive into more trials for its developed formulations. The patent titled “Active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) comprising cannabinoids for use in the treatment of cancer” assigned to GW Pharmaceuticals describes the use of CBD and one other cannabinoid from the list of CBG, CBGA, CBDA and THCV to treat many cancers including lung cancer. The patent also has a PCT in the US and Europe but has yet to have a continuation patent filed. GW Pharmaceuticals has experimented with trials and received positive results in 2017 for a Phase II proof-of-concept trial in glioma using a proprietary blend of THC and CBD. Jazz Pharmaceuticals may certainly be able to expand on this for GW Pharmaceuticals.

In total, GW Pharmaceuticals has 7 cancer treatment patents for breast, liver, lung, pancreatic, melanoma, myeloma, ovarian, gastric, renal, bladder, glioma and leukaemia cancers using cannabinoids. All 7 patents have a PCT application filed. Three of these patents are being used to protect further developments of GW’s cannabinoid drugs because they have child patent applications filed as well. At the time of this writing (July 2021), the child patent applications have not been published, but their existence is visible in the USPTO’s PAIR database. GW Pharmaceuticals added its 7th patent asset to its portfolio in July 2021. A patent titled “Use of cannabinoids in the treatment of multiple myeloma” published on July 20, 2021 discusses the use of THC and CBD to treat myeloma, a plasma cell cancer. GW Pharmaceuticals not only leads the entire cannabis industry in patents but it also takes lead in cannabinoids for treating cancer patents.

Coming up on the tail end of GW Pharmaceuticals is Sutter Bay Hospitals (SBH) which has 2 patents in the cannabinoids for cancer space. Only one of SBH’s patents has a PCT filed but both have had at least two child applications filed as well. SBH’s patents discuss, similarly, using a delta-9-THC or delta-8-THC in possible combination with CBD and a cancer treatment agent to help destroy cancer cells from breast or brain cancers like glioma. In February of 2021, Stanford Medicine and SBH announced a partnership to care for cancer patients in the East Bay and they will even construct a new outpatient cancer center. It is not yet clear if cannabinoid treatment trials will be conducted; however, the dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, Lloyd Minor, MD, stated that “…opportunities to participate in some of the world’s most innovative cancer treatment trials” will be given to the patients of their facility. Time will tell if Stanford Medicine and SBH have cannabinoid treatment trials on their minds. 

Will GW Pharmaceuticals and Jazz Pharmaceuticals need to worry about SBH and its partnership with Stanford Medicine? Follow the race using the Cannabis Patent Forecast® to stay updated with patent and market developments in the cannabis industry. Start your free trial today!