Dental impression company Impression Healthcare (ASX: IHL) has confirmed that it will make a foray into developing a range of cannabis-based products that could potentially deliver unprecedented health benefits to consumers.
The Aussie company has just announced a collaboration with US company AXIM Biotechnologies Inc., a leading cannabinoid biotech company that manufactures products as part of the emergent cannabis market, currently in full bloom across North America.
The coming together of Impression and AXIM is thereby expected to assist in bringing cannabinoid therapeutics to mainstream healthcare in both Oceania and the US, according to the duo.
Impression’s letter of intent and binding exclusivity agreement with AXIM makes Impression (with a market cap of around $5m) the newest entrant to the Australian medical cannabis sector.
It fast-tracks Impression’s path to compete with the likes of other higher market cap medicinal cannabis companies, including Botanix Pharmaceuticals (ASX: BOT) ($73m market cap) regarding its Psoriasis products and Bod Australia (ASX: BDA) ($30m market cap) regarding its cosmetics range.
Both Canada and the US have embarked upon an audacious path towards full-blown legalisation of cannabis, with Canada currently on track to see cannabis products made available nationwide in the coming months.
Meanwhile, the US is gradually seeing cannabis-based products becoming a staple of its medical healthcare system with 31 states now allowing medicinal use and 9 states allowing recreational use.
From early industry estimates coming out of Canada, the country’s decision to legalise cannabis could haul in around US$7 billion in sales in Canada alone.
According to market research done by Deloitte, Canada will generate around US$4.3 billion from recreational sales each year, a further US$1.7 billion from medicinal sales and approximately US$1 billion from the black market.
AXIM’s cannabis arsenal
As it stands, AXIM’s flagship products include ‘MedChew Rx’, a combination cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) gum that will undergo clinical trials for the treatment of pain and spasticity amongst multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers.
It also makes ‘MedChew Dronabinol’, a product expected to undergo a bioequivalence study with a view of being fast-tracked through the standard round of FDA trials, as an alternative to approved drug Marinol, developed and sold by AbbVie Inc.
Marinol is predominantly used to treat loss of appetite that causes weight loss in people with AIDS and to treat severe nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. AXIM also plans to progress its CanChew RL product into clinical trials later this year, to treat the effects of restless leg syndrome.
AXIM says its CanChew chewing gum is the world’s first, patented industrial-hemp-derived CBD-infused chewing gum, already legal in all US states and over 40 countries worldwide.
The deal with Impression could potentially see these products approved and marketed in Australia and New Zealand for the benefit of consumers in Oceania.
Impression has made a sudden leap into cannabis-based drugs, with large pharma firms also taking early stakes in the emergent cannabis-derived market. The first synthetic cannabis-based drug (Epidolex) is now available in the US, after crossing the finish line on FDA trials earlier this year.
The softening legislature is also being felt in Europe and Australia, which has understandably brought forth a host of companies seeking to make a market in cannabis-based products.
Deal-making in new markets
Under the terms of the agreement with AXIM, Impression will work with its medicinal cannabis consultants to produce regulatory strategies, submissions and marketing plans for AXIM’s products to ultimately obtain required regulatory approvals.
AXIM states that the partnership will see both companies develop a series of products that will undergo the usual set of trials and eventually be made available to the public as either prescribed or over-the-counter medicines treating a wide spectrum of ailments.
Furthermore, AXIM and Impression will endeavour to work together on the development of “certain new products” based on CBD and THC, although both companies have remained tight-lipped on the exact details of their research and development plans.
The initial focus on development contemplates pre-clinical studies and clinical trials for an “oral rinse liquid” targeting oral mucositis, strep throat, oral infections and gum disease, although the duo has said that other indications and applications may also be considered.
“As regulations standardise and public opinion of cannabinoid-based therapeutics becomes more widely supportive, it is essential for AXIM to focus on capturing international markets at this stage of our company’s growth,” says George Anastassov, CEO of AXIM Biotech.
AXIM’s CEO has also declared that his leadership will steer the company towards “bringing cannabinoid therapeutics to mainstream healthcare,” after a staggeringly long hiatus prescribed by government policy globally.
Oceania-bound cannabis market commerce
Subject to regulatory approval, Impression plans to licence and distribute AXIM’s current and future range of cannabinoid-based products in Australia and New Zealand.
The collaboration also contemplates the development of new cannabinoid products for key indications that represent significant markets throughout the world.
New York-based AXIM says it is currently putting all its efforts into research, development and production of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic and oral health products incorporating cannabinoids.
AXIM has established a full chain of production, including extraction, purification, conversion and microencapsulation and says it possesses its own proprietary formulations that will be purposed for various applications including an oral, trans-mucosal, controlled release delivery system in the form of chewing gum.
“Collaboration on development of new products and seeking of regulatory approval is the fastest and most cost-efficient way to expand into new markets, and we are happy to have found an experienced partner who will help us do just that. These markets represent many potential patients with a national health care system that supports long-term and preventative health,” said Mr Anastassov.
AXIM has developed an extensive list of products over the past few years and sees a clear market opportunity in Australia where its product range is relatively more effective and has seen more development dollars spent compared to similar products being developed by Australian cannabinoid companies.
As well as marketing AXIM’s existing products, Impression is keen to leverage its newly-forged relationship towards developing new products with AXIM. Impression already makes a host of custom-fit dental health products, ranging from products for teeth protection, bruxism and sleep apnoea, all the way through to teeth whitening.
Possibly its biggest scalp is the AFL, with whom Impression signed a deal to become an official licensee, including snagging rights to manufacture and sell team-branded mouthguards for all AFL teams.
“Impression is delighted to collaborate with AXIM on its extensive range of products and respects its foresight, depth of knowledge and years of development experience in the medicinal cannabis sector. Impression is committed to both innovation and the provision of high-quality products to our customers and, as such, we are excited to work with AXIM to both distribute its great products and to start work on new products,” said Mr Troy Valentine, chairman of Impression Healthcare.