GW Pharmaceuticals is reportedly preparing itself for takeover approaches as its attractiveness continues to grow with the increasing potential of its cannabinoid portfolio.
According to Reuters, the british biotech has called in investment back Morgan Stanley to help it deal with suitors, which it says remain unidentified at this point but might include GW's distribution partners for the marijuana-based multiple sclerosis spray Sativex.
Citing people familiar with the situation, Reuters also reported that the company is not currently interested in exploring a sale and it remain uncertain whether a deal will actually occur.
There has been growing interest in GW because of its novel cannabis-based epilepsy therapies. Its flagship drug, Epidiolex, has recently racked up a number of late-stage trial successes in patients with the rare conditions Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, and is on target to be filed in the US in the first half of next year.
Morgan Stanley analyst Andrew S Berens said last year that he expects the drug to pull in peak sales of around £1.8 billion, if all target indications are approved.
GW's cannabidiol has also shown promise in schizophrenia; in an exploratory Phase IIa placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 88 patients who had previously failed to respond adequately to first-line treatment with antipsychotics, the drug consistently outperformed placebo on a range of undisclosed clinical endpoints, according to the firm, highlighting a further opportunity in the pipeline.
Both the firm and Morgan Stanley have thus far declined to comment on the rumours, Reuters noted.