Marijuana Business Magazine October 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | October 2019 52 flower, oils and edibles to alleviate pain or aid sleep? “We believe fundamentally that physicians and patients desire a cannabinoid-based medicine that has the hallmarks of a modern medicine,” said Stephen Schultz, vice president of investor relations at GW Pharma. Those hallmarks, Schultz said, include consistency, efficacy and safety that have been proved in “robust clinical trials.” Additionally, some insurance companies will provide reimbursement for FDA-approved medicines. That’s vital given that such medicines can be very expensive. For example, reports put the annual cost of Epidiolex at around $32,500, although the drug is often covered by health insurance. “We believe that’s the segment that physicians and patients desire,” Schultz said. “For us, the future of medical use of cannabis is about developing medicines that go through that pharmaceutical, FDA-approved route.” Numerous marijuana and biosciences companies are making the same bet, launching cannabis drug-development efforts. Most are in the preliminary research stages. Nexien Biopharma in Colorado, for example, is developing cannabis- based medicines to treat epilepsy, pain, myotonic dystrophy and other conditions. The company hopes to get into FDA trials in the near future, while Australian company Medlab has two cannabis-based medicines targeted for cancer pain in clinical trials in Australia. Sandoz Canada, a subsidiary of Swiss pharma giant Novartis, is developing cannabis-oil capsules with Canadian license holder Tilray that could be distributed internationally. According to a 2018 report from Washington DC-based New Frontier Data and Grow Biotech, a London biotechnology firm, seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are multinational pharmaceutical companies. (See chart to the left.) Cannabis for Wellness While pharma and biosciences company activity points to increased customer demand for cannabis-based pharmaceutical medicines, many industry executives say they see increasing demand for cannabis as a wellness product, too. “What we found among our patients is that there’s an enormous amount of overlap between people that access our products through adult-use regulatory structures, but they’re looking for a medical health wellness application. It may be for something as simple as sleep or anxiety, or it may have to do with finding an alternative to inflammation,” Columbia Care’s Vita said. Many of those consumers, he added, include a growing number of baby boomers and women, who are typically underrepresented segments of the consumer cannabis market. “That’s why, when we think about medical, it’s not going simply to be how it’s thought of today. It’s going to be much more about maintaining quality of life A NewKind of Medical COMPANY COUNTRY PATENTS Ciba-Geigy AG Switzerland 21 GW Pharma Ltd. United Kingdom 13 Kao Corp. Japan 7 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. United States 11 Ogeda S.A. Belgium 7 Pfizer Products Inc. United States 14 Sanofi-Aventis France 6 Solvay Pharmaceuticals B.V. Netherlands 7 Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Sweden 13 University of Connecticut United States 6 According to a 2018 report from New Frontier Data and Grow Biotech, a London biotechnology firm, seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are multinational pharmaceutical companies. These companies— with their home countries and number of patents listed—include: Stephen Schultz Courtesy Photo