Prohibition Partners’ latest report on pharmaceutical cannabis has found combined sales of Epidyolex, Dronabinol and Sativex are set to reach EU$1.8 billion by 2025. 

The Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition notes that there are major opportunities for the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of medical conditions such as spasticity, PTSD, epileptic seizures and especially pain, with the current global spend on non-cannabinoid-based pain medications worldwide estimated at US$63-85 billion each year.

Despite pain being a common condition for which medicinal cannabis is used, there is no single cannabinoid-based drug that has received widespread approval for its treatment.

The report also states that the market for pharmaceutical products which leverage the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to treat illness remains largely untapped, with around 200 million people using cannabis globally each year and 40% of users having a medical component to their usage.

Prohibition Partners analyst and report author Conor O’Brien said: “Many operators in the medical cannabis space are blind to the risks and opportunities arising from cutting-edge developments in clinical trials of cannabinoid medicines, the synthetic cannabinoid space, and the innovations in delivery formats and devices.” 

The report highlights Epidyolex as the leading cannabinoid pharmaceutical, garnering more than EU$430 million in sales in 2020 and serving an estimated population of more than 20,000.

Epidyolex producer GW Pharmaceuticals has taken more 20 years to generate significant sales and faced many setbacks in clinical trials, but is now seeing rapid growth. The firm was acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth US$7.2 billion earlier this year.

The reports says the understanding of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes has been largely patient-led, with research following widespread consumption of cannabis for a given condition. 

It identifies at least 30 late-stage clinical trials using cannabinoid therapeutics and notes that around 250 clinical trials using compounds that target the ECS are carried out each year. However, it maintains that there is a long way to go before the potential for the use of medicinal cannabinoids in the pharmaceutical space is reached. 

The report suggests a range of new cannabinoid therapeutics will be approved across the globe within the next decade, and operators can expect to see these products take up market share at the expense of unapproved flower and oils. 

Prohibition Partners director of strategy and dataset Barbara Pastori added: “The goal of establishing oneself in the medical cannabis space is very much a moving target. The balance of approved and unapproved products is constantly shifting, and new innovations in the highly medicalised sector of cannabis promise to upend some of the current status quo in the industry”