Marijuana and the Pharmaceutical Industry — A Love Story?
For years they fought it tooth and nail. Big Pharma spent ungodly sums of money trying to fight the legalization of cannabis in vain. They tried everything from bogus scientific research, to hilarious defamation campaigns, to political lobbying. But these failed… and the legalization of cannabis is now inevitable. The pharmaceutical industry’s recent foray into cannabis pays homage to the old adage: if you can’t beat them, join them… or buy patents in them. The big pharma cannabis love story is indeed a strange one.
Marijuana and the pharmaceutical industry have a very long and public history. However, that history has recently meandered down an interesting and unfamiliar path. It appears that some of the industry’s largest names are ready to monopolize the plant that has no reported medicinal value.
A joint research report was recently conducted between the Amercian analytics firm New Frontier Data and British marijuana biotech, Grow Biotech. The investigation uncovered that 7 of Canada’s 10 biggest cannabis patent holders are pharmaceutical companies.
New Frontier Data CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer was definitive in her statements about the big pharma cannabis takeover.
“Big Pharma’s inevitable entrance into the cannabis space has arrived”
Prior to legalization, securing a patent of an illegal plant was an exercise in futility. However, with legalization approaching in October, marijuana and the pharmaceutical industry have reconciled their differences. This is confirmed by the findings of the joint report.
“These patents which would have been difficult to enforce while cannabis remained illegal, will become enforceable post-legalization, giving the patent holders a key strategic advantage in an increasingly competitive market”
What’s the Point of Patenting a Plant?
Cannabis is a diverse plant. A plethora of different strains exist, each with a more bizarre, and threatening nomenclature than the last. Given this, patenting cannabis seems like a fruitless endeavor. Is the marriage between marijuana and the pharmaceutical industry destined to be a temporary, and pointless fling? The kind you instantly regret afterward and try to bury deep within the recesses of your memory?
If this is your assessment of the big pharma cannabis relationship, you must reconsider this experiment from a medical perspective. There is a key difference between weed for enjoyment and weed for medicine. This is because medicinal cannabis requires a much greater degree of precision that recreational cannabis.
Achieving an adequate and replicable balance of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids is essential for cannabis medicine to be effective. A strain with high THC might be useful for the treatment of certain cancers. However, for a patient with high anxiety, such a strain might induce psychotic-like behavior.
Thus patenting a specific strain which, which demonstrates the potential for curing or treating a particular ailment, would be as logical as placing a patent on ibuprofen.
Some CEOs of these corporations undoubtedly possess clairvoyance as they foresaw marijuana and the pharmaceutical industry eloping. However, not everyone is so interested, and a few major players are not jumping on the cannabis bandwagon.
Who is Abstaining From the Big Pharma Cannabis Marriage?
It appears that some pharmaceutical giants are okay with being left behind in this new evolution of medicine. Pfizer for one, says that it has previously experimented with cannabis… But they didn’t like it… And they didn’t inhale…
“Years ago we investigated a class of compounds for potential therapeutic value in treating cancer pain and inflammatory pain. Our work in the area was confined to the lab, never tested in patients, and eventually discontinued. We have abandoned our patents in this area”
According to a Pfizer spokesperson, the company flirted with cannabis and currently holds 14 different cannabis patents, making it the second biggest patent holder in Canada.
However, the pharmaceutical giant does not consider these a priority. Whether the company will regret nonparticipation in what is sure to be a lucrative big pharma cannabis takeover, is open for debate.
By: Stefan Hosko