Marijuana-Derived Medication Gets DEA OK

The first-ever FDA-approved drug that contains cannabidiol (CBD), one of the chemicals present in marijuana, won’t face the kind of restrictions that marijuana and other cannabis-oriented products do.

The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has determined that Epidiolex, which the FDA approved in June for treatment of seizures associated with two types of epilepsy, is a Schedule V drug. This means it has a low potential for abuse. In contrast, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse as well as no currently accepted medical purpose.

Epidiolex does not contain THC, the compound in cannabis that can give users a high. It is important to note that the FDA didn’t reschedule CBD itself as a Schedule V drug, but rather FDA-approved drugs containing the compound. CBD by itself is still considered a Schedule I drug.

GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex’s developer, said it expects its product to be available in six weeks. And it isn’t cheap: Epidiolex has a price tag of $32,500 per year.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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