Monday May 12, 03:52 PM
Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals Plc., the British drug firm pioneering cannabis-based medicines, reached a new high on Monday as investors speculated it was close to announcing a marketing partner for its products.
A GW spokesman said it still aimed to conclude a deal during the first half of the year, but declined to comment further.
"There is speculation over them signing a partner fairly shortly which is lifting the shares," said Julie Simmonds, biotech analyst at Evolution Beeson Gregory, who rates the stock a "buy".
She expects the company to sign a European marketing deal with a mid-sized pharmaceutical company.
Clinching a good marketing agreement is the next key milestone for GW, which hopes for a 2003 launch of its lead product, which is sprayed into the mouth rather than smoked to give pain relief for multiple sclerosis patients.
The shares -- which were floated at 182 pence each two years ago -- reached a peak of 224 pence before retracing slightly to stand 7.8 percent up on the day at 220-1/2p by 1440 GMT.
GW cultivates some 40,000 marijuana plants a year at a secret location
in the English countryside and holds the sole British licence to develop
medicines from cannabis.
Copyright © 2003, Reuters Ltd.