Tetra CEO talks drug development, competitive edge, legalization and more
In this edition of “Rising High,” The Fly conducted an exclusive interview with Guy Chamberland, chief executive officer and chief scientific officer of Tetra Bio-Pharma (TBPMF), a Canadian biopharmaceutical company focused on cannabinoid-based drug discovery and development. Here are some of the highlights:
Innovative Drug Development:
Tetra Bio-Pharma is focused on providing clinical programs aimed at bringing novel drugs and treatments to patients and their healthcare providers. The company looks to combine traditional methods of medicinal cannabis use with supporting scientific validation and safety data. Chamberland described Tetra as a “traditional biopharmaceutical company that discovers and develops innovative medicines in the same way as other research-based pharmaceutical companies.” The CEO, who said Tetra is definitely not a cannabis company, said, “We gather PHASE 1,2 and 3 evidence in order to meet the rigorous standards required by regulatory authorities, the medical community as well as public and private payers, so that our therapies can be reimbursed. The fact that our therapies are cannabinoid-derived is what differentiates us from other pharmaceutical companies.”
The CEO said he sees very little competition in the space in terms of what Tetra does as a biopharmaceutical company. “While competition is strong among the cannabis producers, our business model is unique,” he said. “That said, Tetra Bio Pharma truly believes in the synergistic effect of CBD and THC.” Chamberland noted that, to date, only GW Pharmaceuticals (GPWH) has secured approval for a cannabis-derived drug, EPIDIOLEX. The CEO said the company is also differentiating itself by looking at different methods of administration. “We also believe that by focusing on an inhalation mode of administration through a vaporizer, as we are with our product candidate CAUMZ, we will see greater clinical impact by avoiding the first pass through the liver,” he said. “This first pass can reduce efficacy by as much as 80%. Other routes of administration can be oral or topical.”
When asked about which country might be next to legalize cannabis on a federal level, Chamberland said Tetra expects the U.S. to legalize soon as over 30 states already have some form of legalization. “I predict that it will take one or two years before the U.S. Federal Government will legalize cannabis,” he said. “However Tetra believes that the FDA will require scientific evidence before approving a cannabinoid-derived therapy, making us extremely well positioned to address the significant U.S. market.”
The CEO said Tetra absolutely has plans to expand more globally as more countries consider mull legal programs. “Tetra Bio Pharma is planning to file CAUMZ with the European Medicine Agency almost at the same time as we will file with the FDA,” he said. “We have ambitious plans that will extend well beyond North America as other global markets wait anxiously for cannabinoid derived therapies that are supported by evidence.”
When asked about the challenges facing the industry, Chamberland said he believes the biggest issue lies in having high quality product supply to support expanding markets. “Currently licensed producers are focusing on the recreational and medicinal markets which are not only financially attractive but require only Good Production Practices standards,” he said. “Pure pharmaceutical products command Good Manufacturing Practices Standards, which is much more demanding in terms of quality. GPP standards allow some form of impurities in the product, while there is no tolerance for impurities in a pharmaceutical product like Tetra’s CAUMZ for breakthrough pain.” The CEO added Tetra uses synthetic sources of CBD and THC as a result in order to ensure 100% purity. “It is exacting to be able to secure a GMP and reliable sources for our synthetic CBD and THC, but we are committed to patient safety and quality in all of our production,” he said.
Flower vs Derivatives:
Chamberland said that as the industry progresses, Tetra expects cannabis buds to strictly be used for recreational and medicinal purposes and not for prescription products. “In the course of our research Tetra has moved from using a pipe to deliver the product to a vaporizer which is more acceptable for institutional usage,” The CEO said, noting, “Tetra is also engaged in the development of new inhalation modes of administration.”
As investor interest in the space increases, Chamberland said investors will need to inform themselves about the process of clinical study results and how cannabinoid-derived drugs are brought to market. “The cannabis industry will be going through a consolidation for recreational/medicinal usage making cannabis a commodity,” he said, noting Tetra is already observing a reduction in price per gram, which will significantly erode gross margin. “We firmly believe that investors need to become better informed about the robust research that is underway on integrating cannabinoids into the healthcare system as prescription drugs that have the potential to reduce the need for opioids as well as address huge unmet medical needs, including the massive chronic pain market, among others,” Chamberland said. “Tetra has a first mover advantage in intellectual property and has demonstrated positive clinical trial results, so investors should keep an eye on us!”
Other Cannabis Stocks:
Publicly-traded companies in the space include Aurora Cannabis (ACB), Aphria (APHA), CV Sciences (CVSI), Canopy Growth (CGC), CannTrust Holdings (CTST), Cronos Group (CRON), General Cannabis (CANN), Tilray (TLRY), Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), India Globalization Capital (IGC), ICC International Cannabis (KNHBF), Biome Grow (ORTFD), MediPharm Labs (MLCPF), Indiva (NDVAF), OrganiGram (OGRMF), KushCo (KSHB), MedMen Enterprises (MMNFF), Elixinol Global (ELLXF), Planet 13 Holdings (PLNHF), Wayland Group (MRRCF), Khiron Life Sciences (KHRNF), Liberty Health Sciences (LHSIF), Origin House (ORHOF), Sunniva (SNNVF), Sproutly (SRUTF), DionyMed Brands (HMDEF), GrowGeneration (GRWG), Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF), Trulieve (TCNNF), Zynerba (ZYNE), Greenlane (GNLN), Delta 9 (VRNDF), Canopy Rivers (CNPOF) and Westleaf (WSLFF).
Originally Posted on September 5, 2019 – Rising High: An exclusive talk with biopharmaceutical company Tetra Bio-Pharma
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