Business

Epilepsy and multiple sclerosis treatments potential revenue sources for Medicanja

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Contributor

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Using marijiuana as the base plant for medical treatment, local medicinal research firm, Medicanja, has recently been approved by the Ministry of Health to market treatments for two of the most globally common health issues. In fact, more than 52 million people are affected by epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. This represents just two examples of how Professor Henry Lowe plans to create a medicinal plant research and marketing hub in the country.

Jamaica has 52 per cent of established medicinal plants yet we are far from the leader in monetising the plant-based medicine industry, says Professor Henry Lowe, CEO of Eden Gardens Wellness Resort & Spa, Bio-Tech R&D Institute, EG Wellness Brands, Medicanja Limited, Flavocure LLC, Educational and Scientific Corp.

The disconnect between availability of medicinal plants and harnessing the economic results of same on a national basis is troubling, according to Lowe, as “there is growing interest in the consumer preference towards traditional medicines and herbal medicines from medicinal plants as persons seek a more natural alternative to health and wellness”.

Speaking at the recently concluded Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Regional Conference, Lowe shared his vision for Jamaica to have a biotech research and development which would become a hub for medicinal plants leading to innovation and commercialisation.

Essentially, Jamaica is leaving money on the table.

Lowe gave several examples:

* The medicinal use of many of our plants are often based on folklore.

* Significant research done by UWI, but no real economic development or commercial products as a result.

* The economic potential can be done through the production of pharmaceutical, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals for local and global markets.

* Research and development has been done on periwinkle, guinea hen weed, ball moss, lignum vitae, cannabis and others

* Despite this great potential, this industry is underexploited and lacks development, especially when compared to overseas.

Now, Lowe has repeatedly stated his commitment to bring his group of companies to the JSE as a listed company giving investors a chance to be a part of his mission to monetise Jamaica's plant-based medical wealth.

And so, Lowe also shared, “Medicanja in collaboration with the Bio-Tech R&D Institute and its sister lab, Flavocure, has been involved in the research and development of the various nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products from cannabis. Medicanja has received approval of eight cannabis-based pharmaceutical products with four topical and two oral products currently on the market.”

Lowe added that “just recently, Medicanja was granted approval by the Ministry of Health for two cannabis products to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis (MS).”

According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disorder of the brain that affects people of all ages. Approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.

Approximately 2.3 million people worldwide suffer from MS. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The cause is unknown, but in most forms of MS the body's immune system attacks the nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, according to Healthline.com.

Lowe further revealed, “The company is awaiting the approval of three other cannabis products that will be used to treat glaucoma and CBD oil as well as as a mosquito repellant.”

Beyond just his company, Lowe outlined how the medicinical plant industry is growing globally.

* There are opportunities to build out products for Medicanja and develop nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and others in order to fit within the global market that exists. This consists of a pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and herbal industry.

* Commercial consumer industries of herbs are worth more then US$80 billion.

* The potential value of nutraceuticals is estimated to be approximately US$ trillion.

* In 2014, total pharmaceutical revenues worldwide had exceeded US$1 trillion with North America responsible for the largest portion of these revenues.

* The global herbal pharmaceutical contributes US$44 billion.

So what can the local stakeholders do to grow this segment of the Jamaican economy to build the nation? Lowe shares his views:

“It is clear that with the opportunities, Jamaica can mobilise its resources to take advantage of these possibilities.

“This can be achieved through enhanced awareness, research and development as well as available financing, training and manpower. Enabling funding for research and development innovation by public/private/international agreement. In order for the industry to prosper, there needs to be the provisions of incubators and financial investment from the public and private sector.”

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