LONDON, May 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GW Pharmaceuticals plc (NASDAQ:GWPH) (GW, the Company or the Group), a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing novel therapeutics from its proprietary cannabinoid product platform, announced the appointment of Volker Knappertz, M.D. as Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Reporting to GW’s Chief Executive Officer Justin Gover, Dr. Knappertz will be based in the Company’s U.S. headquarters in Carlsbad, California. In addition, GW has appointed Prof. Ben Whalley as Head of Discovery Research, based in the UK.

“I am delighted to welcome Volker and Ben to GW in these important R&D roles,” stated Justin Gover, GW’s Chief Executive Officer. “Volker has an impressive record of successful new drug development and obtaining regulatory approvals which, together with his deep experience in neurology, makes him ideally suited to lead GW’s clinical and regulatory activities with respect to Epidiolex® and our product pipeline. In addition, Ben’s prominent position in the field of cannabinoid science, particularly with respect to epilepsy, will also be a major asset to GW in the pursuit of our pipeline discovery programs.”

Dr. Knappertz has over 25 years of clinical trial experience and 17 years of pharmaceutical drug development experience, holding leadership positions with responsibilities for managing international clinical trial and medical affairs programs. Most recently, as the Vice President of clinical development for multiple sclerosis, oncology and biosimilar products at Teva Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Knappertz oversaw multiple regulatory submissions and approvals in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. Prior to joining Teva in 2012, Dr. Knappertz served in clinical and medical roles in CNS, CV, and biologics at Bayer Pharmaceuticals and AstraZeneca. Dr. Knappertz is a U.S. Board certified neurologist who received his residency training at Yale University, New Haven, CT where he served as chief resident and was fellowship trained at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. He received his clinical scientist training and M.D. as well as a doctorate degree in research on glioblastoma from the University at Cologne in Germany.

In addition to the appointment of Dr. Knappertz as CMO, Professor Ben Whalley has been appointed to the newly created position of Head of Discovery Research. Previously, Prof. Whalley was Professor of Neuropharmacology at the Reading School of Pharmacy at the University of Reading, UK Since 2007, he has been GW’s principal academic collaborator in the field of epilepsy pre-clinical research and is the author of key papers related to the pre-clinical studies of CBD and CBDV in the treatment of seizures. In this time, he has become a leading authority on the effects of cannabinoids in the central nervous system.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to continue the work of providing regulatory approved cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical medicines to patients with high unmet medical needs and look forward to building on the progress of the Epidiolex program in treatment resistant forms of epilepsy and to driving GW’s rich pipeline of products forward,” stated Dr. Knappertz. “The strength of the Epidiolex data is compelling and it is a privilege to begin my work at GW with the late-stage development and regulatory submissions of Epidiolex. Personally, having experienced first hand in my family the devastating effects of epilepsy, the opportunity to contribute directly to making a new treatment available for those affected by these often intractable epilepsy conditions allows me to return my focus to the therapeutic area that motivated my career as a neurologist and drug developer.”

“Having now worked for the last decade in collaboration with GW to explore the pre-clinical effects of cannabinoids, I am convinced of the breadth of the potential of cannabinoid science to provide breakthroughs not only in epilepsy but across a range of disease areas,” stated Professor Whalley. “I look forward to contributing to GW’s drug discovery efforts and to advancing the next generation of pipeline candidates.”