Medicinal cannabis company Cannvalate is getting its ducks in a row ahead of its planned IPO, strengthening its board with the appointment of Dr Amit Vohra as chief operating officer.
Dr Vohra was formerly the head of strategy and health solutions at Sonic Clinical Services, a division of multi-billion-dollar pathology and radiology company Sonic Healthcare (ASX: SHL), and brings more than 15 years of C-suite (chief level) healthcare experience to the new position, Cannvalate said.
In addition to his most recent role, Dr Vohra has held chief executive officer, company secretary and director positions in several Australian healthcare companies and was recognised among the top 50 most influential people in General Practice by the Australian Doctor publication.
Dr Vohra is also the chairman of health technology startup GP2U and sits on the board of not-for-profit organisation Dental Truck, which provides dental services to remote and rural indigenous communities around Australia.
Cannvalate already completed a Series A raise of $4 million in October last year and has stated plans to IPO in the second half of 2019.
Cannvalate chief executive officer Dr Sud Agarwal told Small Caps this week that the IPO is “still targeting late 2019”.
He said the appointment of Dr Vohra would help to strengthen the company’s board as it heads towards this target.
“Amit has been trusted with delivering a range of new commercial and innovative models of care across a number of Australian healthcare companies and we look forward to his contribution in streamlining our growth and building out the corporate strategy in preparation for our IPO,” he said.
According to Dr Agarwal, “streamlining growth” refers to focusing on prescriber, product and patient acquisition for the distribution part of the business.
He said Cannvalate’s corporate strategy involves growing the research wing of the business to extend into “cannabinoid drug discovery, unique formulations and patentable cannabinoid delivery devices”.
Dr Vohra said in today’s press release he was delighted to join Cannvalate’s “energetic and highly motivated team”.
“Cannvalate’s already successful operating model positions it well to be a leader in the space,” he said.
“The medicinal cannabis industry is exploding in Australia and no one is better positioned to strike the right balance for consumers, clinicians and product manufacturers,” Dr Vohra added.
Australia’s medical cannabis market
Changing laws and regulations around the globe in recent years have spurred a burgeoning industry of medical cannabis companies.
According to Cannvalate, in the last 12 months, the Australian market alone has seen the number of total monthly medical cannabis prescriptions grow by more than 800%.
The Melbourne-based company operates Australia’s largest network medical cannabis-prescribing clinics, spanning all states.
Its network, which comprises over 1,000 referring healthcare professionals and 600 affiliated pharmacies, currently accounts for more than 40% of these prescriptions.
In March, Cannvalate teamed up with disruptive healthcare company Impression Healthcare (ASX: IHL) to distribute cannabinoid medicines and undertake four clinical trials including a “first of its kind” study on the effects of CBD oil on traumatic brain injury.
Under the research partnership, Impression agreed to pay Cannvalate in cash plus grant a series of options (upon the achievement of milestones), which has now made Cannvalate one of Impression’s largest shareholders.
In recent months, Impression has gone from relatively unknown to one of the hottest cannabis stocks on the market.
Last month, Dr Agarwal was appointed to Impression’s board as its chief medical officer and non-executive officer to assist the company with its commercialisation strategy.