Medicinal cannabis trials going well

MedCan’s CEO panel at the summit. Carmen Doran, Helius Therapeutics CEO, is second on the right.

New Zealand’s fledgling medicinal cannabis sector is producing top grade product but they are unable to speak about it until robust clinical trials are completed.

The comments were made by industry leaders following New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis summit last week.

MedCan 2022 had over 30 international and local speakers present on February 10 and 11 virtually in a dedicated one-day Healthcare Professional Forum (Times, February 10). It was live-streamed from a studio at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

Dr Zahra Champion, executive director of BioTechNZ and MedCan summit organiser, says that the event successfully brought together New Zealand’s newest sector which is excited to now be making a real difference for Kiwi patients and the economy.

More than 400 delegates registered. A roundtable discussion allowed attendees to interact with one another.

One of the many highlights, Champion says, was hearing Minister Andrew Little speak.

“I want to thank the medicinal cannabis industry for your pioneering work producing safe products that consumers want and building a world-class export industry,” said Little.

In the past week alone, he said, two more products had been verified against the quality standards. A total of 10 products are now in the domestic market.

“The Minister reinforcing that domestically there are now local CBD products that cost less than imported ones is helpful for patient awareness and for local medicinal cannabis manufacturers who are unable to promote or even talk about their products due to statutory restrictions,” Champion says.

Helius Therapeutics, MedCan’s Foundation sponsor, spoke of similar concerns at the summit.

“Too many Kiwis remain unaware of the sector’s successful delivery in recent months and that was frustrating,” chief executive Carmen Doran said.

“Several products have been verified as meeting the quality standards. However, local manufacturers must remain silent until they achieve approved medicines status.

“High GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards now give prescribers’ confidence, but until Kiwi manufacturers go through exhaustive clinical trials they can’t say much. MedCan 2022 was key to shining much-needed light on what the sector’s now achieving for local patients.”

Champion says work will begin soon on MedCan Summit 2023.