Aurora Cannabis officially shipped out its first shipment of “free” dried cannabis flower to be given to a select number of patients in France.
A subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis Inc., Aurora Germany GmbH, partnered with Ethypharm to deliver the first shipment of cannabis medicine to France to be used in the country’s medical cannabis pilot program. Both Aurora and Ethypharm were chosen by the National Agency for Safety Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) to deliver dried flower for use by French patients.
Both companies signed an agreement to work with the ANSM in October 2020. In the agreement, Aurora confirmed it would deliver medical cannabis from the company’s largest European facility, Aurora Nordic. Ethypharm is in charge of distribution of the dried flower throughout France. According to the program, companies will participate knowing that the product they send would be “free of charge.”
According to Aurora’s Chief Executive Officer, Miguel Martin, this is a great honor for the company. “The first prescriptions of dried medical cannabis as part of the French pilot program are a significant step toward providing access to patients and will support the destigmatization of medical cannabis in France,” Martin said in a press statement.
The statement continued, “This accomplishment is another example of Aurora’s leadership in global cannabis, with a proven track record of supporting the advancement of international medical cannabis markets alongside government bodies. By demonstrating a deep commitment to compliance and focus on product quality, we won three of the nine available tenders. If successful, this pilot program could lead to one of the largest regulated medical cannabis markets in Europe.”
Ethypharm’s Chief Commercial Operations Officer, Jean Monin, declared his honor in the company being chosen to assist French medical cannabis patients. “Combining our pharmaceutical skills is, in our view, the right approach to build trust and confidence in medical cannabis for the long term in France,” said Monin. “We want to be a driving force to support patients suffering from chronic pain when there is no other therapeutic option than medical cannabis. With our deep expertise in disorders of the central nervous system and an expertise in highly regulated medicines, we are well prepared to collaborate with the health authorities and physicians.”
There are three types of dried flower being shipped to France currently: Aurora 20/1 XPE (high-THC), Aurora 8/8 XPE (balanced amount of THC and CBD) and Aurora 1/12 XPE (high-CBD). The flower will be consumed using a vaporizer from STORZ & BICKEL.
When the French government announced this effort on October 7, 2020, it referred to the program as an “experiment.” The initial decree noted that the program would last for “a period of two years from the prescription to the first patient and no later than March 31, 2021,” and will serve up to 3,000 patients.
Nadine Attal, a pain specialist who works at the Ambroise-Paré hospital in Paris, France and is one of the committee members who will oversee the experiment. “There is a group of patients who respond very, very, very well to this product, particularly those who have chronic pain that is resistant to everything else,” she told Radio France Internationale in an interview.
Attal also mentioned that this effort isn’t a scientific trial and there won’t be a placebo given to some patients. Rather, this is a way for researchers to analyze the “real-life use” of cannabis as a medicine. “We will learn more about the kinds of patients who respond, and we’ll be able to identify side effects, like vertigo, drowsiness, fatigue,” she described.
Aurora Cannabis is one of six companies participating in France’s medical cannabis program. This includes Australian companies Althea and Little Green Pharma, Canadian company Tilray, Israel-based Panaxia and Emmac Life Sciences from the UK. The participating companies are all foreign because cannabis flower that contains THC over 0.2 percent is illegal in France.