New licence – great news for Kiwi cannabis patients

“The industry’s first licence renewal and expansion will enable Helius to produce New Zealand grown and made medicinal cannabis products – something Kiwi patients have been waiting for since the inception of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. It’s an exciting milestone,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Helius was New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to achieve a GMP Licence for Manufacturing Medicines in July 2021, covering the first products to market.

The Ministry of Health has now renewed and expanded Helius’ licence allowing the Auckland-based company to make active ingredients onsite from raw cannabis material.

Every New Zealand GP can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for any health condition, with Kiwi-manufactured products using imported active ingredients available for the past six months.

“Right now, you can go to your doctor and get medicinal cannabis products that are New Zealand-made. However, accessing both locally grown and locally made products is even better news for Kiwi patients,” says Ms Doran.

The licence expansion follows Helius signing a multi-million-dollar supply deal in January with New Zealand’s largest and only organic certified medicinal cannabis grower, Puro. It will see over 10 tonnes of organic dried flower supplied to Helius over the next five years – the equivalent ofapproximately five shipping containers.

Following its latest South Island harvest, Puro dried flower will be sent to Helius in the coming weeks for precision processing, including CBD extraction. Additional medicines also require stability testing and product registration.

At the end of this year, Helius will unleash its exporting strategy. Ms Doran says the expanded GMP licence together with the supply deal will give the company the necessary scale to launch premium Kiwi grown and made products overseas.

“New Zealand’s GMP Certificate is recognised throughout Europe and many other countries around the world, opening up considerable export possibilities.

“With the global medicinal cannabis market expected to grow to over NZ$60 billion by 2025, our nascent industry has the potential to become one of New Zealand’s largest export earners,” she says.

Earlier this month the Government announced that Helius would work alongside Puro on research and development and the creation of an organic manufacturing road map. The five-year workstream is part of a $32 million project to accelerate the growth of the country’s new medicinal cannabis industry and highlights strong government support for it.

“The longer-term ambition is for New Zealand to achieve both organically-grown and organically-manufactured high quality cannabis medicines – which will prove enormously popular given New Zealand’s clean, green image internationally,” says Carmen Doran.

NZ engineers to drive better outcomes for cannabis patients

New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, has launched an industry collaboration with the University of Canterbury’s Engineering Faculty.

It sees Helius working together over the coming months with Biomedical, Mechanical, and Mechatronics Engineering students supervised by Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase.

Prof Geoff Chase

The final-year student project centres around how accurately the likes of stress, anxiety and chronic pain can be measured using wearable devices. Traditionally, assessments and medical impacts on such health conditions are measured subjectively by patients themselves and thus variability can cloud the results because patients may feel differently on any given day.

Now, four final-year UC Engineering students will assess the measurability potential of common wearable technologies, such as FitBit, Garmin and Google watches. They will evaluate algorithms, consider clinical needs, and develop methods to download data.

While all New Zealand doctors can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition, healthcare professionals are crying out for more scientific data to support their own learning journey and curiosity.

“Helius is committed to providing clinical evidence to prescribers and leading substantive research into quality-of-life measures for patients. Providing absolute data to healthcare professionals will ultimately help improve much-wanted patient access to medicinal cannabis,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Professor Chase says final-year projects bring together the University of Canterbury’s research capabilities, talented and enthusiastic students, and challenges that industry needs to meet.

He says this collaboration seeks to potentially create a significant advance on the objectivity of measurements that can be made in clinical drug trials where cannabis would be effective.

“Importantly, it brings a nascent New Zealand industry together with our prior research experience. Students gain valuable experience to apply their engineering skills to real problems. At the same time, sponsoring industry partners make innovative and commercial strides knowing they’ve also added to the knowledge base of future graduates,” he says.

While this collaboration measuring stress, anxiety and sleep with wearable devices may be a first for the two organisations, Ms Doran and Professor Chase have worked together before.

Ms Doran studied at the University of Canterbury with Professor Chase, graduating with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering awarded with Distinction. Together they published more than a dozen international scientific, engineering, and medical papers.

“It was 20 years ago exactly that Carmen was a student of mine in a similarly important final-year project. The outcomes of that project led to a major change in clinical practice in ICU care. It’s great to have her technical expertise and to work alongside the country’s first medicinal cannabis business to gain a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines,” says Professor Chase.

Mentoring the project with Professor Chase is Dr Rick Acland – Helius board member and senior adviser. Dr Acland AFRM (RACP) is one of New Zealand’s leading pain specialists, who has been a long-time consultant at both Christchurch’s Burwood Spinal Unit and Auckland Spinal Unit.

Helius has a state-of-the-art 8,800sqm research, medicines manufacturing and indoor cannabis cultivation complex in East Auckland. Now in itscommercialisation phase and delivering in the domestic market, Helius is set to export later this year.

“Innovation and collaboration are key to New Zealand creating world-leading efficacious, novel, and safe next-generation medicinal cannabis therapeutics. This collaboration with UC Engineering is a win-win-win – a win for students, a win for our company, and a win for New Zealand’s most exciting sunrise industry,” says Carmen Doran.

www.helius.co.nz

New phase for Helius as David Darling joins board

David Darling has been appointed as an independent director on the board at Helius Therapeutics – New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company.

Mr Darling has had an extensive career working on the development, growth and international commercialisation of life sciences and biotechnology products businesses.

“Helius is at the forefront of tomorrow’s plant-based medicines. Globally, there is a significant movement towards naturally derived medicines, with the pain management capabilities of cannabinoids now well established internationally. It’s an incredibly exciting and fast-growing industry, with Helius already delivering,” says Mr Darling.

Following a career with Fletcher Challenge, he has been Chief Executive of Pacific Edge for 19 years – a NZX50 business focused on commercialising its bladder cancer diagnostics tests in global markets.

Mr Darling led the Pacific Edge team to develop a suite of proprietary molecular diagnostic tests and built active commercial businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the US. The company is now listed on both the NZX and ASX and is included in the S&P NZX50 Index.

“With Helius now in its commercialisation phase and about to unleash its export strategy, David’s arrival is very good timing given our planned growth. He brings a comprehensive set of skills and global experiences that will support our team to develop new products and enter new markets,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

In mid-2021 Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to gain a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines. Then in October last year the Medicinal Cannabis Agency announced that two new local medicinal cannabis products had met the minimum quality standard for commercial sale and use. Recently, Helius announced New Zealand’s largest cannabis supply agreement with South Island-based organic cultivator, Puro.

Holding prime mover advantage, Helius has invested in building a world-class team with skills from plant culture to pharmaceutical development and commercialisation.

The 100% Kiwi-owned private company has a state-of-the-art 8,800sqm medicines manufacturing and indoor cannabis cultivation complex in East Auckland. Helius is focused on commercialising its pipeline of medicines, creating efficacious, novel and safe next-generation medicinal cannabis therapeutics.

Mr Darling says he’s excited to join the board as Helius drives its innovation and commercialisation journey, and significantly scales up for growth in under-served international markets.

“Helius is a trailblazer and leader in New Zealand’s newest industry. The company continues to successfully meet all the unique demands and challenges that come with the transition from a start-up business to one of early-stage growth.

“I’m impressed by Helius’ investors, board members, management, and staff. The company has an absolute focus on its founding motivation – to improve patients’ quality of life with locally produced plant-based medicines at more affordable prices,” says David Darling.

Carmen Doran says investing heavily in a world-class team, production, and manufacturing facilities means Helius is well geared for an expansive and global future.

“David’s arrival represents an exciting time in our business as we begin to execute our international growth phase. Curiosity and diversity of thought at all levels of the business will continue to help Helius provide the most innovative, natural healthcare solutions for patients here and abroad,” says Ms Doran.

David Darling replaces Helius founder, JP Schmidt, who is stepping down after five years in the business, remaining one of the cornerstone investors.

www.helius.co.nz

Kiwi medicinal cannabis to be exported this year

December marked three years since New Zealand’s Parliament unanimously passed legislation to enable a local medicinal cannabis industry. With overseas products limited and expensive, finally Kiwi patients would have legal access to quality local products at affordable prices.

After a myriad of industry regulations were finalised, New Zealand’s scheme and new Medicinal Cannabis Agency took effect in April 2020.

“Yes, it has been complicated process and a long wait for patients. However, when it comes to pharmaceutical standards and people’s healthcare, it has been critical for the Ministry of Health to implement and oversee a rigorous regulatory regime,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Last year concerns were raised that patients were set to go without. That’s because under New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, most overseas products no longer met the new minimum standards.

From 1 October 2021, doctors could no longer prescribe those imported products. From 4 October, however, the Medicinal Cannabis Agency announced that two local products had been verified. Finally, locally manufactured products were available.

This year Kiwi patients will see more cost-effective local products. Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to gain a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines in July 2021. Rua Bioscience then received its GMP licence with a product recently verified for release in 2022, and other businesses will follow.

“Some people may have quite a rudimentary image as to how cannabis products are made. In reality, a successful cultivation and manufacturing facility relies on an internationally experienced team. Complying with some of the world’s highest quality standards requires deep pharmaceutical expertise,” she says.

Ms Doran says Helius’ places trust in science and the standards – both of which will give New Zealand a competitive edge.

“As the old adage goes, it’s quality not quantity. Where our country’s newest industry will succeed is in research and development and delivering new and novel products boasting greater efficacy and safety.”

She says as the only local medicinal cannabis business that has road-tested its production and distribution processes in New Zealand, Helius is excited to scale up and export the first Kiwi-manufactured products to Europe from this year.

“New Zealand has achieved a notable slice of the international wine market. Through smart innovation and collaboration, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same with medicinal cannabis. News like Puro NZ being granted BioGro Organic status for its expansive outdoor cultivation only adds an edge.”

She says post pandemic New Zealand needs sunrise industries to succeed and its national export earnings to lift. With the global cannabis market expected to grow from $18.7b in 2020 to $61.3b in 2025, even a sliver of this pie will be well worth getting. It will mean more businesses and more jobs here at home.

“The priority for now is Kiwi patients. Afterall they, and their advocates, have fought long and hard for better access to these natural medicines.”

Ms Doran says affordability is starting to be achieved, but better access also means more doctors willing to prescribe. As it stands, every GP in New Zealand can prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition. However, as recent patient stories in the media suggest, many still lack the knowledge or confidence to do so.

“With our doctors effectively the gatekeepers, prescriber education is a key component to patient access. In fact, surveys show, doctors themselves are the first to acknowledge they need to be better informed about medicinal cannabis and what and how it can effectively treat.”

The good news for New Zealand patients is that many more healthcare professionals are now genuinely curious and actively educating themselves. This is known not only through encouraging prescription data, but registrations to educational resources and events.

Two good examples are MCInfo and MedCan. Over 1,300 doctors and pharmacists have now registered on MCinfo – which is a dedicated medicinal cannabis online information service for both Kiwi prescribers and patients. Tellingly, February’s MedCan Summit 2022, in Auckland, has also received many more registrations from doctors than the inaugural industry summit in 2020.

“As the country’s largest medicinal cannabis company, we are thrilled to sponsor such opportunities for doctors to be better informed. We also know that with more local products set to be verified in 2022, GPs will receive more enquiries and questions from patients.

“Interestingly, we’re not just talking about delivering next-generation local products for humans. There’s also a massive opportunity for New Zealand to treat companion animals from all around the world with cannabis. In fact, globally, the pet category is incredibly fast-growing,” she says.

Helius’ subsidiary company, Hale Animal Health, is now developing clinically trialled non-psychoactive CBD products for pets. Together, both companies may be the first in the world to officially register cannabis medicines for veterinarians to prescribe.

“Medicinal cannabis is an exciting opportunity for New Zealand – and probably bigger than what MPs imagined three years ago when they gave it the green light. Yes, its establishment has been a long and hard haul, but thankfully the industry has now moved into the most important phase – delivery,” says Carmen Doran.

Ends

Carmen Doran is the chief executive of Helius Therapeutics and a board member of the New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Council.

www.helius.co.nz

ENDS

Contact: Carmen Doran – Chief Executive at Helius Therapeutics

[email protected] or (022) 673-2146

Medicinal cannabis industry now in delivery phase

This month marks three years since Parliament unanimously passed the legislation to enable a New Zealand medicinal cannabis industry. With overseas products limited and expensive, finally Kiwi patients would have legal access to quality local products at affordable prices.

After a myriad of industry regulations were finalised, New Zealand’s scheme and new Medicinal Cannabis Agency took effect in April last year.

Yes, it has been complicated process and a long wait for patients. However, when it comes to pharmaceutical standards and people’s healthcare, it has been critical for the Ministry of Health to implement and oversee a rigorous regulatory regime.

This year concerns were raised that patients were set to go without. That’s because under New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, most overseas products no longer met the new minimum standards.

From 1 October, doctors could no longer prescribe those imported products. From 4 October, however, the Medicinal Cannabis Agency announced that two local products had been verified. Finally, locally manufactured products were available.

Next year patients will see more cost-effective local products. Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to gain a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines in July. Rua Bioscience then received its GMP licence with a product recently verified for release in 2022, and other businesses will follow.

Some people may have quite a rudimentary image as to how cannabis products are made. In reality, a successful cultivation and manufacturing facility relies on an internationally experienced team. Complying with some of the world’s highest quality standards requires deep pharmaceutical expertise.

At Helius, we place our trust in science and the standards – both of which will give New Zealand a competitive edge. As the old adage goes, it’s quality not quantity. Where our country’s newest industry will succeed is in research and development and delivering new and novel products boasting greater efficacy and safety.

As the only local medicinal cannabis business that has road-tested our production and distribution processes here in New Zealand, we’re excited to scale up and export the first Kiwi-manufactured products to Europe from next year.

New Zealand has achieved a notable slice of the international wine market. Through smart innovation and collaboration, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same with medicinal cannabis. News like Puro NZ being granted BioGro Organic status for its expansive outdoor cultivation only adds an edge.

Post pandemic we need sunrise industries to succeed and our national export earnings to lift. With the global cannabis market expected to grow from $18.7b in 2020 to $61.3b in 2025, even a sliver of this pie will be well worth getting. It will mean more businesses and more jobs here at home.

The priority for now is Kiwi patients. Afterall they, and their advocates, have fought long and hard for better access to these natural medicines.

Affordability is starting to be achieved, but better access also means more doctors willing to prescribe. As it stands, every GP in New Zealand can prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition. However, as recent patient stories in the media suggest, many still lack the knowledge or confidence to do so.

With our doctors effectively the gatekeepers, prescriber education is a key component to patient access. In fact, surveys show, doctors themselves are the first to acknowledge they need to be better informed about medicinal cannabis and what and how it can effectively treat.

The good news for New Zealand patients is that many more healthcare professionals are now genuinely curious and actively educating themselves. We know this not only through encouraging prescription data, but registrations to educational resources and events.

Two good examples are MCInfo and MedCan. Over 1,300 doctors and pharmacists have now registered on MCinfo – which is a dedicated medicinal cannabis online information service for both Kiwi prescribers and patients. Tellingly, February’s MedCan Summit 2022, in Auckland, has also received many more registrations from doctors than the inaugural industry summit in 2020.

As the country’s largest medicinal cannabis company, we are thrilled to sponsor such opportunities for doctors to be better informed. We also know that with more local products set to be verified in 2022, GPs will receive more enquiries and questions from patients.

Interestingly, we’re not just talking about delivering next-generation local products for humans. There’s also a massive opportunity for New Zealand to treat companion animals from all around the world with cannabis. In fact, globally, the pet category is incredibly fast-growing.

Helius’ subsidiary company, Hale Animal Health, is now developing clinically trialled non-psychoactive CBD products for pets. Together, we may be the first in the world to officially register cannabis medicines for veterinarians to prescribe.

Medicinal cannabis is an exciting opportunity for New Zealand – and probably bigger than what MPs imagined three years ago when they gave it the green light. Yes, its establishment has been a long and hard haul, but thankfully the industry has now moved into the most important phase – delivery.

http://www.helius.co.nz/

Contact: Carmen Doran – Chief Executive at Helius Therapeutics

[email protected] or (022) 673-2146

MedCan 2022 perfectly timed for local cannabis industry

“With New Zealand’s cannabis businesses now delivering for Kiwi patients and set to export, February’s MedCan is perfectly timed to bring the sector and many key stakeholders together,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Helius is the foundation sponsor of the country’s largest medicinal cannabis summit, MedCan 2022. Given New Zealand is in the red setting of the Covid Protection Framework, the two-day industry event will be run virtually on 10 and 11 February.

Ms Doran says with its GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines issued mid-last year and its export strategy to be unleashed this year, Helius is thrilled to be playing an active part at MedCan 2022.

It comes as Helius has signed New Zealand’s largest supply contract with Marlborough-based organic cultivator Puro. The five-year deal will further enhance Kiwis’ access to locally made cannabis medicines as well as provide much needed scale for international success.

On MedCan’s first morning, Carmen Doran will join other key local cannabis leaders on a CEO panel, discussing ‘The state of play of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry in 2022 and beyond’. She’ll then moderate the ‘Women in the medicinal cannabis industry’ panel.

Internationally, the fast-growing medicinal cannabis sector sees many women in significant leadership roles, with the value of the global cannabis market expected to grow three-fold to over $60b in 2025.

“At Helius we’re no exception. Our Chair, Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, and Managing Director of our subsidiary company, Hale Animal Health, are women. New Zealand’s newest industry is certainly no boys club – exemplified by Executive Director of BioTechNZ, Dr Zahra Champion, leading MedCan,” says Ms Doran.

In the Science stream, Helius’ Cultivation Manager Kai Keli’iho’omalu will speak about understanding the diseases that threaten New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry.

On the second day, Helius Director Dr Rick Acland will MC the dedicated Healthcare Professionals Forum where Helius Advisory Board member James Yu will present from a pharmacist’s perspective.

Other key discussions include Ms Doran talking with Auckland University of Technology (AUT) medicinal cannabis expert Associate Professor Ali Seyfoddin about finding, attracting and retaining talent in the industry.

Helius recently announced a partnership with Dr Seyfoddin which sees it working alongside AUT doctoral students, researching and developing advanced medicinal cannabis products.

“The success of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry relies not only on innovation but strong cross-sector collaboration. MedCan 2022 provides a unique opportunity to strengthen connections, and for GPs to grow their knowledge about this new and exciting frontier of care,” says Carmen Doran.

More than 30 international and local speakers will present at the summit including scientists, medical experts, clinicians, entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers.

Further details on MedCan 2022 and its two-day programme are available on its website: www.medcansummit.co.nz

www.helius.co.nz

ENDS

Contact: Carmen Doran – Chief Executive at Helius Therapeutics

[email protected] or (022) 673-2146

NZ doctors’ interest in medicinal cannabis grows

A leading medicinal cannabis online education platform is encouraged by the strong interest it’s now seeing from New Zealand’s key healthcare professionals. It follows genuine concern that doctors lack sufficient knowledge about medicinal cannabis to prescribe it to patients.

About 1,250 doctors and pharmacists have now registered on MCinfo.com – a dedicated medicinal cannabis information service.

The comprehensive online resource has been built and run by DATAPHARM. Director Don Budge says healthcare professionals have jumped into action due to increasing patient enquiries with Kiwi-made products now a reality.

Three years ago, Parliament passed legislation to allow for the creation of a local medicinal cannabis industry to deliver high-quality, yet more affordable products, for Kiwi patients. Every New Zealand doctor can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition, yet most surveyed have reported they need to be better informed about it.

“Interest from both patients and prescribers about medicinal cannabis has slowly been building in recent years. However, with two local products now available and with two local producers GMP Licenced to Manufacture Medicines, with others to follow, it has suddenly become a lot more real,” says Mr Budge.

mcinfo.com

Registration to MCinfo is free for doctors and pharmacists. The initiative also sees highly trained representatives on the road to better inform healthcare professionals about medicinal cannabis.

Education sponsor of MCinfo is Helius Therapeutics. New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company is thrilled with the uptake so far.

“Helius is absolutely committed to medicinal cannabis education, with doctors and pharmacists’ knowledge key to improved patient access. It’s great to see many more healthcare professionals now genuinely curious and actively educating themselves. This is really good news for New Zealand patients,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

While patients and the public can access MCinfo’s up-to-the-minute information on the use, potential benefits and risks of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other medicinal cannabinoid products, only MCinfo-registered doctors and pharmacists can access the prescribers’ portal.

There they will obtain access to dedicated resources including MCinfo’s clinical fact sheets and a series of Zoom presentations. The next one will be held on Wednesday, 1 December, with a presentation from Dr Ali Seyfoddin, Associate Professor in Drug Delivery and Biological Engineering at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). He will present on ‘Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of medicinal cannabis: What we know and where we are heading.’

Mr Budge says as well as the virtual resources MCinfo provides, and having reps visiting doctors, MCinfo has had stands at GPCME (General Practice and Medical Conference Exhibition) and the Independent Pharmacy Conference. Its next stand will be at Medcan Summit 2022.

MedCan 2022 will take place on 10 and 11 February at Auckland’s Cordis hotel, with Helius the foundation sponsor. Doctor registrations for this have also been strong.

The industry summit will have a key focus on prescriber education, including a one-day Healthcare Professional Forum where experts will present on the endocannabinoid system, clinical data, the applications and prescribing of medicinal cannabis in medical practice.

“Next year is a big year for our country’s newest sunrise sector. Kiwis will see more local products on the market, with Helius unleashing its export strategy. Initiatives like MedCan and MCinfo are increasingly important if we’re to satisfy patient demand and address so many people’s quality of life. Afterall, Helius believes every New Zealander deserves the right to a pain-free existence,” says Carmen Doran.

Recently Helius announced an education partnership with AUT, which sees the company sponsor three AUT PhD students to research and develop advanced medicinal cannabis products, overseen by Dr Ali Seyfoddin.

DATAPHARM’s Don Budge says the industry’s leadership and collaboration to improve medicinal cannabis education and prescriber knowledge remains critical.

“We’re really encouraged by the number of MCinfo registrations we’re now getting. Doctors and pharmacists told us they were keen for a single trusted source of information with real-time access to medicinal cannabis’ ongoing global developments. That’s exactly what we’re now providing, and it’s working for them,” says Don Budge.

www.mcinfo.com

ENDS

Contact: Don Budge – DATAPHARM Director – 027 585 5513 or [email protected]

First key ‘Cannabis for pets’ study conducted

A New Zealand company that’s set to be among the first in the world to register cannabis medicines for pets has successfully completed its first study involving dogs.

Hale Animal Health’s Managing Director, Leila de Koster, says while the research is commercially sensitive, and the findings will be closely guarded, it nonetheless marks a major early milestone.

Hale - Managing Director, Leila de Koster.
Hale – Managing Director, Leila de Koster.

Titled ‘Pilot pharmacokinetic study of CBD treatment in healthy dogs’, the study saw a group of healthy dogs treated orally with what was deemed an investigational veterinary product. Blood samples were then taken periodically, which among other things detected CBD concentration levels and the rate it cleared the animals’ bodies.

“The study confirmed our hypothesis around how best to dose, supporting our desired dosing regime. It confirmed the bioavailability, or broadly speaking the absorption, of our investigational product and so overall we’re delighted,” says Ms de Koster.

Extensive R&D work is now underway in the quest for Hale to achieve approval in New Zealand and Australia for CBD veterinary-prescribed medicines, with the submission of the company’s first data package for regulators to assess planned for the first half of 2023.

“Hale is aiming to be one of the first in the world to deliver clinically trialled and registered cannabidiol-based products for pets. It’s a long road but this pharmacokinetic study represents a key first step,” says Ms de Koster.

Part-owned by medicinal cannabis company Helius Therapeutics, Hale Animal Health is based at Helius’ massive 8,800sqm state-of-the-art indoor facility in East Auckland.

In July, Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to be awarded a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines. The Medicinal Cannabis Agency has since announced the verification and availability of two new local medicinal cannabis products.

Just as the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme has enabled the local development and manufacturing of cannabis therapeutics for humans, creating CBD products for pets is now also achievable in New Zealand. While it’s novel here, Ms de Koster says the sector is growing rapidly internationally.

Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics, Carmen Doran, says it’s exciting to be working alongside Hale on the journey to obtain official registration of CBD prescription products for pets that vets can then prescribe with confidence.

“CBD will be a game-changer for many Kiwi pet owners and their suffering pets. Just as Helius is rolling out an R&D pipeline of activity and novel therapeutics, so too is Hale. The fact that many at Helius have considerable experience in animal health is also proving a huge advantage,” says Ms Doran.

Helius - Headquarters close up - 2021
Helius – Headquarters close up – 2021

Obtaining registration for approved medicinal cannabis products for pets requires considerable data and clinical trials. Hale’s work is set to fill an international void of clinical information, on the likes of the efficacy of CBD products for pets.

“CBD is highly effective for treating the likes of pain and inflammation in humans, and we believe it’s no different for animals. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system with receptors that work with cannabinoids, the active substance in medicinal cannabis,” says Ms Doran.

It’s believed CBD can treat pet anxiety, stress, nausea, skin conditions, arthritis, and seizures, and Hale will work hard to prove this with trials and reliable clinical data.

Ms de Koster says Kiwis are keen to access cannabidiol-based products to naturally alleviate their pets’ pain and suffering.

“Local pet owners are hugely supportive of our work to develop and deliver CBD products to help their much-loved furry friends. Fortunately, we’ve already got natural supplements on the shelf that they can get in behind and back, which helps to fund Hale’s critical cannabis R&D work,” she says.

Since launching early this year, Hale’s Vitality Plus natural liquid supplement range has been selling well in vet clinics and pet specialty shops, including PETstock stores, across New Zealand.

Now, Hale has rolled out its Best Life supplements for senior dogs and adult and senior cats, with its next product release, in 2022, aimed at puppies, kittens, and active dogs.

“Tailored to the life stage of the pet, these liquid supplements are the first of their kind in New Zealand and they’re packed with essential omegas, antioxidants, prebiotics and superfoods. As we say: ‘Squeeze some health into every feed… because prevention is the best medicine for them too’. Better still, pets love the taste,” she says.

The Hale brand continues to grow. The company is a proud sponsor of Barkley Manor – a popular new local television show which showcases a doggie day-care centre in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

“Kiwi pet owners have got in behind Hale which is really energising us to return the favour. We can’t wait to help the lives of much-loved companion animals, both here and eventually overseas, by delivering world-leading approved medicinal cannabis products for pets,” says Leila de Koster.

www.haleanimal.co.nz

About Hale

Hale Animal Health is committed to elevating the quality of life of every pet. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Hale is working to develop one of the world’s first clinically trialled and registered medicinal cannabis medicines for pets. In addition to future cannabis derived prescription medicines, Hale now offers a range of scientifically formulated pet supplements, crafted from premium natural ingredients – backed by the latest animal health data. As animal lovers, Hale feels dutybound to do everything it can to improve pets’ lives.

Helius appoints Director of R&D

Marten Vos has been appointed Director of Research & Development at Helius Therapeutics.

“Helius is squarely focused on building and driving its R&D capability, with this new senior role reflecting just that. Successfully competing on the world stage means we need to be a leader in the R&D space, delivering high-quality, next-generation medicinal cannabis therapeutics,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

In July, Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to be awarded a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines. The Medicinal Cannabis Agency has since announced that two new local medicinal cannabis products have met the minimum quality standard, with the 100% Kiwi-owned company to unleash its exporting strategy from 2022.

Mr Vos joins Helius with considerable experience having spent more than 25 years leading and developing R&D and technical teams. He spent 12 years at Douglas Pharmaceuticals, heading both their pharmaceutical and natural health development teams. Most recently he held senior Asia Pacific animal health pharmaceutical development roles.

Helius has invested significantly in its 8,800sqm state-of-the-art indoor cannabis cultivation and manufacturing complex in East Auckland.
Helius has invested significantly in its 8,800sqm state-of-the-art indoor cannabis cultivation and manufacturing complex in East Auckland.

He has degrees in Analytical and Organic Chemistry from the Netherlands. Importantly for Helius, ahead of unleashing its exporting strategy, Mr Vos brings extensive knowledge of the pharmacopeial and regulatory requirements of key overseas jurisdictions.

“We’ve worked hard to pull together the best team, with deep international and pharmaceutical experience. We’re now establishing a R&D pipeline to create both efficacious and novel therapeutics. Marten’s CV is impressive and so we’re excited he’ll be leading this pipeline,” says Ms Doran.

The Director of R&D will plan, manage and execute the development of various types of cannabinoid formulations. It will involve hands-on research into product development while coordinating with other departments to bring new formulations and products to market.

Marten Vos’ appointment follows Helius and the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) signing an agreement which enables significant R&D collaboration.

Helius will closely work with AUT academics and doctoral students researching and developing advanced medicinal cannabis products. It will see Mr Vos co-supervising projects with Dr Ali Seyfoddin, Associate Professor in Drug Delivery and Biological Engineering.

Helius also works alongside Callaghan Innovation whose support has helped establish cultivation, plant breeding and medical research programmes.

Having raised $48m in capital since 2018, Helius has invested significantly in its 8,800sqm state-of-the-art indoor cannabis cultivation and manufacturing complex in East Auckland. A larger dedicated R&D laboratory space will be constructed in 2022.

“As the country’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis company, Helius is the best placed to lead our newest industry’s scientific knowledge and capability. We want New Zealand to become a medicinal cannabis research centre of excellence,” says Carmen Doran.

Helius Therapeutics is the foundation sponsor of MedCan Summit 2022, which will take place on 10 and 11 February next year at the Cordis hotel in Auckland.

www.helius.co.nz

Candace Kinser appointed chair of Helius Therapeutics

Candace Kinser has been appointed chair of the board at Helius Therapeutics.

The accomplished chief executive and non-executive board director brings significant experience in high-growth start-ups, technology transformation, healthcare, biotech, and agribusiness commercialisation.

Ms Kinser says she was attracted to Helius’ founding motivation to develop novel prescription medicines for patients who have limited options for treatment.

“Helius has a bold vision to become a world leader in the research, development and production of next-generation cannabinoid medicines. This Kiwi company, however, is not about cannabis. It’s all about advancing health outcomes, as well as leading an enormous economic opportunity for New Zealand,” says Candace Kinser.

In July, Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to be awarded a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines. The Medicinal Cannabis Agency has since announced that two new local medicinal cannabis products have met the minimum quality standard.

“Candace’s arrival comes at an exciting time for Helius. As well as significant governance, commercialisation and capital raising experience, Candace is deeply passionate about improving quality of life for patients who are suffering and looking for more effective alternatives,” says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Ms Kinser’s current board roles include chair of Cancer Society Auckland/Northland, an appointed director for Livestock Improvement Corporation, and a director at NZ Health Partnerships.

As former chief executive of Biomatters, she achieved significant growth for the New Zealand genetics software company which saw it become a global leader and internationally acquired. As the chief executive of NZTech, she orchestrated a significant pivot and broadening of the national organisation’s membership, creating the hugely successful NZTechWeek and NZTechWomen.

“Candace brings first-hand global market growth strategy expertise. She has extensive biotech networks in Australia, the United States and Europe. These contacts, along with her customer and stakeholder engagement knowledge, will be key as Helius reaches out to New Zealand patients and unleashes its export strategy from 2022,” says Ms Doran.

Ms Kinser describes the 100% New Zealand-owned private company as an innovator and true trailblazer which has done well to navigate the country’s newest sector, even before regulations were in place.

“The quality of people at Helius, their education and global expertise in medicines, research and commercialisation are without parallel. Both on the board and in the executive leadership team, there’s an extraordinary wealth of pharmaceutical knowledge and international experience,” she says.

Having raised $48m in capital since 2018, Helius has invested significantly in its 8,800sqm state of the art indoor cannabis cultivation and manufacturing complex in East Auckland. As the country’s licenced largest producer, Helius is focused on the future, establishing a R&D pipeline to collaborate and create efficacious, novel and safe next-generation medicinal cannabis therapeutics.

“Helius’ huge GMP manufacturing facility has now roared into action. I’m looking forward to bringing my commercialisation, governance and strategy skills to the table as we look to create new products and generate strong channels into international markets,” she says.

Born in Austin, Texas, Ms Kinser has degrees in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Hawaii, a Master’s in Management from Massey University, and graduate studies in BioPharma Enterprise from Rutgers University, New Jersey.

Ms Doran says Helius has brought together people with many varying backgrounds from cannabinoid cultivation, manufacturing and research to pharmaceutical systems, commerce, and healthcare education. She says diversity of thought and experience is how Helius will deliver the most innovative solutions for patients here and abroad.

“Kiwi patients have waited long enough to access quality and affordable local medicinal cannabis products. We’ve pulled the best team together to do the job, but our journey has only just begun. Helius has now moved into the phase of delivery, with many more exciting milestones ahead. Candace’s appointment to the helm is perfect timing and a perfect fit,” says Carmen Doran.

Ms Kinser replaces Helius cornerstone investor, Guy Haddleton, who remains on the board.

Helius Therapeutics is the foundation sponsor of MedCan Summit 2022, which will take place on 10 and 11 February next year at the Cordis hotel in Auckland.

www.helius.co.nz