Following changes in the UK that allow specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPM), Australian medicinal cannabis company Althea Group Holdings Limited (Althea) has launched in the UK as Althea MMJ UK (Althea UK).
Althea UK is expected to begin supplying products from March 2019, and will do so through its partnership with Aphria, a global cannabis company based in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Recent research by Prohibition Partners published in The European Cannabis Report estimates that CBPM could be suitable for up to 2.9 million UK patients, and so the UK facility will likely be a significant channel of distribution for the Althea Australia’s production facility, which is due to be operational in 2020.
Aphria President Jakob Ripshtein said: “We’re proud to be one of the first licensed producers to support patients in the UK with access to high-quality medicinal cannabis products following the recent legislation change through this extension of our strategic partnership with Althea.”
UK patients can only be prescribed cannabis-based products for medicinal use by a specialist doctor on the General Medical Council Specialist Register; currently, medical cannabis in England is only likely to be prescribed to children and adults with rare, sever forms of epilepsy and adults with vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy – and it is only prescribed when other treatments aren’t appropriate or successful. The Department of Health and Social Care has asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to produce clinical guidelines on the prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use, expected by October 2019.
Althea UK will also be launching Althea UK Concierge, a service that aims to provide medical education resources for UK health authorities and healthcare professionals (HCPs) and guidance on how to access Althea UK products.
“The UK Government’s positive regulatory change represents another major milestone in the advancement of medical cannabis around the world,” said Althea CEO Josh Fegan. “We look forward to collaborating with HCPs to share our extensive experience in providing cannabis-based products for medicinal use to tackle unmet medical needs across a range of conditions and disease areas.”