Article by Cristina Howorun, CityNews
When marijuana became legal across Canada last October, it became a little easier for recreational users to access cannabis.
First, you could buy it online and as of April 1st, you could purchase it legally at a handful of brick and mortar stores.
But for years, the 330,000 Canadians with medicinal cannabis prescriptions have been tied to their mailboxes, ordering online and waiting for the delivery.
They can’t get their prescriptions filled at a pharmacy, and instead have to rely on non-medical professionals to help them ascertain if there are potential adverse reactions to other medications they’re taking.
But that isn’t stopping companies like Sandoz — a major pharmaceutical company — from entering the space. Last year Sandoz, a division of Novartis, and one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in the Canadian market, announced a partnership with B.C. cannabis company Tilray to develop and distribute medical marijuana products.
It’s the first deal between a major pharmaceutical company and a Canadian cannabis producer.
“There are actually currently eight products in market. Three which are gel caps and hard caps and the other five which are oils. We’re not in the smoke-able business, only non-smoke-able. And those products contain both of our brands,” explains Sandoz Canada’s Executive Director of Innovation and Strategic Projects, Vincenzo Ciampi.
“We’re also working on additional products in the future which will be other form factors, which will make it easier for the patient to use the product in a safe way.”
Ciampi says many of the Sandoz/Tilray products have been successful at helping individuals cope with different symptoms or conditions including psychological trauma, PTSD, and neuropathic pain.
“Also things to do with epilepsy, for example. There’s been a lot of indications that they can help to reduce some of the symptoms of epilepsy,” he says.
But their products are only available online through licenced distributors. According to the Health Canada website there are fewer than 100 distributors able to sell directly to patients. Federal and provincial regulations prohibit pharmacists from dispensing any form of medicinal cannabis.