Helius commends National on its medicinal cannabis bill
Prominent cannabis biotech start-up Helius commends
on its medicinal cannabis bill.
Helius Therapeutics, the New Zealand-owned medicinal cannabis company, commends Dr Shane Reti and the National Party for their medicinal cannabis bill.
Speaking on behalf of Helius, Co-Founder Paul Manning says, “It is clear that Shane Reti and his team have sought expert advice, applied industry best practice and commercial rigour to implement a realistic, workable approach to medicinal cannabis legislation in New Zealand.”
Helius believes the details set out in the National bill will provide accessibility for patients seeking to improve their quality of life and pave the way for a world-class, well-regulated medicinal cannabis industry.
“In our opinion, this bill is a near-perfect balance of social and commercial priorities for medicinal cannabis legislation.”
“This bill addresses the key issues that we have campaigned for over the last six months. It will set medical-grade standards for the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis-based therapeutics. It points to high quality standards as mandatory, which will place the New Zealand industry, and companies like Helius, ahead of the world in terms of safety, consistency and quality”, says Manning.
Cannabis card will improve patient access and experience
Helius applauds National's proposed medicinal cannabis card program and believes this would provide a high level of accessibility for patients who can benefit from cannabis-based medicines.
“Cannabis card schemes have proven to facilitate accessibility in the US. This approach removes friction from the process, improves the patient experience, connects healthcare practitioners and helps with the integration of seed-to-sale tracking systems. This approach also supports a potentially broad domestic patient-base for local producers to serve”.
Quality standards, right for New Zealand
Helius points out that GMP is a quality production process, suitable for the medicinal cannabis industry, and already supported by producers. It does not mean that all cannabis products must be clinically-trailed in the way that pharmaceuticals are developed – it simply sets quality production standards. This will not impact the cost of products to patients. Helius has worked extensively with partners, Deloitte, to model the impact of GMP certification on the end-cost of products. The company has applied industry insights from North America and local commercial modelling.
“GMP is a standardised quality system, already used here by companies producing vitamins, natural health supplements and milk formula. We’re opting to meet this standard because we believe New Zealand-made medicinal cannabis products should be benchmarked against the best in the world.”
Helius found that there is no substantive impact of GMP certification on product costs, when compared to lesser standards.
“Helius is capable of producing medical-grade cannabis products for patients at a cost not exceeding the present, unregulated black market”, says Manning. “The primary factor in keeping costs low for New Zealanders isn’t quality systems – it’s market size and economies of scale.”
National’s bill provides clarity
Helius believes this new bill gives producers and patients greater clarity. "What we see in this bill is a level of detail that the industry can bite down on. The bill makes the standards for cultivation and manufacturing clearer. It tells us who can cultivate and manufacture products; it tells us what we can sell, where we can sell it and whom we can sell it to. These details were not clear in the original bill."
“This is exactly what local producers like us wanted to see, and equally it sets out the right priorities for society. We think the Government should get behind this bill.”
Opportunities to improve the bill further
Helius suggests that National’s bill should go further to address the enormous economic opportunity associated with exporting cannabis extracts. The company advocates that licensed producers should be allowed to create more jobs and generate taxable, foreign earnings for New Zealand through trade in the $55b global medicinal cannabis market.
“Demand for medicinal cannabis is outstripping supply in the world markets. We believe Government should support local producers in exporting New Zealand-grown medicinal cannabis products. Better yet, the economies of scale associated with export will further reduce product costs for Kiwi patients.”
Helius also points out the suggested 5km residential safety zone needs further consideration with exemption options for secure, indoor facilities located in industrial precincts.
We also strongly support the development of full spectrum medicinal cannabis products. This means allowing the use of all cannabinoids, including THC, in therapeutic products – the standard across North America. “All of the available compounds in medicinal cannabis offer their own therapeutic properties, and together they work synergistically to provide more benefit than any single compound. This is known in the industry as ‘the entourage effect’”, says Manning
“We hope to see this well thought-out framework put forward for public and parliamentary scrutiny, without delay. Medicinal cannabis is now supported by 87% of the population, and we are ready to begin local production of safe, affordable medicinal cannabis products to improve quality of life. We must put patients ahead of politics and maintain momentum."
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About Helius Therapeutics
Helius is a New Zealand-owned biotechnology company focused on medicinal cannabis research and development. Helius completed a $15m Series A capital raise earlier this year and is building a state-of-the-art facility in Auckland with indoor controlled growing systems, integrated extraction site, an advanced cannabinoid research laboratory and manufacturing operations. As the country's regulatory environment changes, Helius is poised to set the standard for effective and accessible medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand.