Over-the-counter CBD sleep pill stings Big Pharma interest

ASX-listed cannabis producer Cann Group has been given a boost after inking a deal with GlaxoSmithKline which could see the pharmaceuticals giant play a key role in the commercialization of Cann’s over-the-counter CBD sleep product.

Shares in Cann jumped 5.4 per cent on Wednesday to a high of 29.5 cents after the company told investors it had secured a deal with GSK Consumer Healthcare, which would give GSK data from Cann’s phase 3 trial of a cannabidiol (CBD) capsule designed to treat sleep disturbances.

GSK will get exclusive rights to the data and will also have first rights to set up deals for marketing and distribution of the products in Australia and overseas.

Medicinal cannabis is big business. Credit:Janie Barrett

Cann chief executive Peter Crock said the agreement was 12 months in the making. “They [GSK] have a strong interest in the CBD space, and they are stepping in with caution,” Mr Crock said.

In a statement, GSK said a partnership with Cann would present an opportunity for it to bring low-dose CBD products to Australian pharmacies. “The key terms of any definitive sales and marketing agreement are contingent on various factors including the results of Cann’s Phase 3 clinical trial, path to regulatory approval, large-scale manufacturing set up as well as GSK’s marketing evaluation,” the company said.

Cann is in a race with several other medicinal cannabis companies to create the first “low dose” CBD product to be cleared by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for sale through Australian pharmacies without a prescription. The involvement of a company like GSK, which has a market capitalization of $US113 billion, would be a significant win for Cann’s distribution efforts if the product is successful.

According to a regulatory change in 2020, these products can be sold over-the-counter provided they contain only a low dose of up to 150 mg cannabidiol, an element of the cannabis plant. No products have yet been registered for sale, but the industry is hoping that clinical trials will conclude by the end of this year, paving the way for sale in 2023.

Cann Group’s product will be in a capsule format and aimed at providing short-term treatment of sleep disturbances.

The company’s phase 3 trial launched earlier this year, with more than 1000 applications online for 212 spots in the trial. “We got a tremendous response … and we now have the first patients who have made their way through screening[readytostartthetrial”MrCrocksaid[readytostartthetrial”MrCrocksaid

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