By 2019, the UK will have the world’s first commercial herbal medicine dispensing plant. 

The National Health Service (NHS) has invested £1bn in the plant, known as GW Pharma, in the hope it can boost the country’s healthcare supply and cut down on the number of prescriptions for a wide range of medical conditions. 

The company will also start dispensing traditional medicines, including herbs, in pharmacies across the UK, and in 2018 it will start selling a “medical food”, a powdered food made with dried herbs. 

While GW Pharma is being developed at the moment, the company said in a statement that it would start selling its products in 2021, in time for the 2020 census.

“The NHS is currently investing in GW Pharma to develop an affordable and effective herbal alternative to traditional medicine,” the statement said.

“As a leading provider of herbal medicines in the United Kingdom, GW Pharma has been the first to demonstrate the feasibility of commercialisation and the potential for it to boost healthcare supply, while cutting down on unnecessary prescriptions.”

The company is also working on a medicinal food that could be available to NHS patients in 2021. 

“GW Pharma will be the first company in the world to sell a medical food made from dried herbs, which will provide a new option for NHS patients to make up for the limited supply of natural and traditional medicine available in pharmacies,” the company added.

“This food will be sold in pharmacies and will be available for patients to use with a doctor’s prescription.” 

In 2017, GW Pharmaceutical said it had developed a new, more effective and safer way to deliver its proprietary plant products to NHS hospitals and other healthcare institutions. 

Its products are delivered in capsules containing the herb tincture and a powder, which the company says will help reduce pain, reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. 

This type of medicine is still experimental at the time of writing, but GW Pharma said in an interview that it was aiming to start selling in pharmacies by the middle of next year. 

It also said the new type, which is more effective, is likely to be more widely available in the NHS. 

In addition, GW said it will be working with NHS hospitals to offer free herbal tea and tea products for patients, and the company is aiming to expand its partnership with the British Medical Association to provide free, herbal medicine to NHS staff. 

By 2021, GW will be making £1.2bn in revenue and will also have a market value of £4.7bn. 

Image credit: Twitter/@GWPharmaUK via Compfight cc