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GW Pharmaceuticals Stockholders Approve Acquisition by Jazz Pharmaceuticals

By Eric Volkman - Apr 23, 2021 at 7:20PM

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Jazz is about to get the top cannabis-derived drug on the market, in addition to a robust pipeline.

A big merger at the intersection of the marijuana and pharmaceutical industries is one step closer to completion. On Friday, shareholders of GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) approved its acquisition by a subsidiary of Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ 0.25%), both companies announced in a joint press release. The approval is one of the final steps required to fuse the pair together.

The deal, which was unexpected by most, was originally announced in February. Jazz agreed to pay $7.6 billion in a cash-and-stock transaction for GW Pharmaceuticals; at the time, that price represented a 50% premium to the latter's stock price the day before the announcement.

Medical professional holding cannabis products.

Image source: Getty Images.

GW Pharmaceuticals the most prominent company currently developing cannabis-based medications. The company's main drug is Epidiolex, a treatment for rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy, and it has been a success -- its sales rose by 72% in 2020 (it won FDA approval in 2018). The company also has a pipeline of other cannabis-based products in various stages of development.

As such, it doesn't feel like an ideal fit for Jazz, which within only a few years will fall completely off the "patent cliff" with its top drug, narcolepsy treatment Xyrem. So it's good that the company will have an increasingly popular drug in its portfolio with Epidiolex. Complimenting that, GW Pharmaceuticals' pipeline might be just the tip of the iceberg for cannabis-derived medications.

As for the acquisition, the only remaining significant hurdle is the approval of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, as GW Pharmaceuticals is headquartered in Cambridge, UK. The court has scheduled a hearing on the matter for May 5.

On Friday, neither company reached the 1.1% gain posted by the S&P 500 index. GW Pharmaceuticals rose marginally by 0.2%, while Jazz slipped by 0.5%.

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