Helius Therapeutics has become New Zealand’s first company to gain approval for medicinal cannabis products derived from locally grown plants.
Last week, the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency gave the green light to two of the company’s products: Helius CBD25 Full Spectrum (Total CBD – CBD+CBDA – 25 mg/mL) and Helius CBD100 Full Spectrum (Total CBD – CBD+CBDA – 100 mg/mL). Both are being made available in 30ml packs.
“Local patients and their advocates have fought long and hard for truly Kiwi products which are both high quality and cost-effective,” said Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.
The products’ cannabinoid content has been extracted from dried flower grown by local organic certified medicinal cannabis cultivator, Puro. In January this year, the companies inked a deal involving supply to Helius of more than 10 tonnes of organic medical cannabis over 5 years grown by Puro.
“Up until now, New Zealand patients could only be prescribed medicinal cannabis grown overseas, with the vast majority being imported from Australia and Canada,” said Puro Executive Director, Tim Aldridge. “Now Kiwi patients can access cannabis medicine, which is grown right here in New Zealand, made from Puro’s organically certified crop.”
The full-spectrum CBD oil is manufactured in Auckland by Helius.
The only other oral liquid CBD products to have met NZ’s minimum quality standard under the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 to date are a couple from Tilray, and one from another New Zealand company. Rua Bioscience launched its first cannabis medicine in April this year.
Both Helius products can be prescribed by any doctor and dispensed by any pharmacy in New Zealand. Doctors are permitted to prescribe cannabis for any condition where they believe it will be of benefit to the patient.
New Zealand’s Regulations originally allowed for medicinal cannabis products that did not meet the quality standards. That arrangement ended in September last year; leaving Kiwi patients little choice in legally accessible products.
The increasing choice of products should encourage more New Zealanders to access medicinal cannabis via legal pathways. According to a report from the NZ Drug Foundation early this year based on 2020 data, 266,700 New Zealanders were using cannabis for medicinal purposes, but just 6% – around 17,000 people – accessed it with a prescription. And that was before the minimum quality standard requirement fully kicked in.