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GW Pharma set to standout in a blockbuster year for British drug makers

British firms are responsible for four of twelve potential potential new blockbuster drugs due for approval this year
drugs, pills, pharmaceuticals
GW Pharma has developed a treatment for a severe form of epilepsy.

This is the year is expected to be a blockbuster with 12 new drugs set for approval that have the potential to achieve peak sales in excess of US$1bn a year.

According to researchers at Clarivate Analytics, 46 new treatments are slated for US Food & Drug Administration over that period.

The biggest of the bunch is expected to be Hemlibra, an injection for haemophilia that is expected to generate annual revenues of US$4bn by 2022 for its maker, Roche.

That’s still some way short of AbbVie’s Humira (for arthritis) and Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Harvoni, which generated US$14b of sales each last year. But these sorts of products are a rarity as are the common or garden variety blockbuster drug with annual sales of US$1bn or more.

That said, the 2018 pipeline appears to have more promise than previous years. In fact, it is the best result in five years.

READ: GlaxoSmithKline winning over City number crunchers

Four UK companies figure in the Clarivate top-12 with Shingrix, developed for shingles by GlaxoSmithKline, at number-five in the list and Shire’s Lanadelumab, for facial swelling called angiodema, in ninth place.

The award for best of British should go to GW Pharma (LON:GWP), which has developed a treatment for a severe and to date untreatable form of epilepsy.

READ: GW Pharma posts more good data from epilepsy trials

While the Cambridge-based group is now listed solely on NASDAQ in the US, primarily a stock exchange for technology companies, it spent its formative years tapping UK investors for growth capital as a member of the AIM exchange in London.

It should be pointed out GW is delivering a breakthrough in that its product, Epidiolex, will be the first cannabis-based treatment to be approved by the FDA. Its peak sales are put at just under US$1.2bn.

Finally, while it has been a tough year for Indivior with the threat of copycat competition to its best-selling heroin substitute, in Sublocade it may have come up with a money-spinning replacement. It is expected to make around US$1.1bn by 2022.

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