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GW, Almirall may pull cannabis drug in German price row

Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall's Research Centre is pictured in Sant Feliu de Llobregat near Barcelona September 3, 2008. REUTERS/G
Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall's Research Centre is pictured in Sant Feliu de Llobregat near Barcelona September 3, 2008. REUTERS/G

LONDON (Reuters) - GW Pharmaceuticals and Almirall may stop selling the cannabis drug Sativex in Germany after health authorities refused to agree a price that the companies view as acceptable.

GW - which developed the under-the-tongue spray as a treatment for spasticity in multiple sclerosis - said on Tuesday the German authorities had determined a price that was significantly lower than in other European countries.

"Our partners, Almirall, consider the German price to be unacceptable and plan to take all necessary steps to challenge the decision, which may include suspension or withdrawal of supply in Germany, whilst they pursue a reasonable solution," GW said in a statement.

GW said it expected to make a provision of 800,000 pounds($1.21 million) to reflect the impact of the pricing decision by the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds.

A spokesman declined to disclose the price that had been offered in Germany. In Spain, Sativex sells for 4.40 euros($5.70) per day and the cost is similar in Britain, he added.

The drug, which contains active cannabis ingredients, is also on sale in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Israel.

Sativex has not yet been approved in the United States, where it is currently being tested in final-stage Phase III clinical trials for advanced cancer pain.

In anticipation of tapping into the U.S. market, GW also announced on Tuesday that it planned to list its shares on the Nasdaq market, in addition to London.

Lazard and Cowen are acting as joint book-running managers for the U.S. offering, with Canaccord Genuity co-lead manager and Roth Capital co-manager. ($1 = 0.7717 euros) ($1 = 0.6619 British pounds)

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Charlotte Cooper)

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