In our third quarterly edition of our Institutional Industry Report on the Bio/Pharma Outsourced Services (BPOS) sector, we focus on the BPOS industry’s opportunities to support the development and manufacture of cannabinoid-based drugs. We hasten, however, to dampen any prurient interest in this topic by emphasizing that these drugs have no “mind-altering” effects and will not be available through the marijuana dispensaries popping up like flowers in the spring. They are, rather, what we once called “ethical,” i.e., prescription, medications and will be available only from pharmacies upon presentation of a prescription from a licensed caregiver.
Cannabinoid-derived therapies are based on chemical substances peculiar to and extracted from cannabis for their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, or on their synthetic analogs; they have no measurable psychoactive effects. First and most importantly, these drugs have an important role to play in pain management compared with existing medications. Of particular and timely interest, two unfortunate properties of many “traditional” pain medications make the rapid evolution of cannabinoid-based pain therapies an important development: (i) the tendency of traditional medications to become progressively less effective over time, prompting patients to increase their dosage, often without professional advice, and (ii) the addictive properties of those that are narcotics, particularly the many that are opiate-based. Consequently, the medical and social services communities are calling for accelerated development of cannabinoid-based pain therapies to stem the rapidly ascending usage of addictive, and potentially fatal, opioid medications.