Katikati-based medicinal cannabis firm, Eqalis Pharmaceuticals, have formed a Clinical Advisory Board (CAB) in order to seek advice from key clinicians and ensure decisions they make are focused on medical professional requirements and patient focused care. This committee is comprised of of senior figures across a range of medical backgrounds and will be complemented with several key Eqalis team members.
The committee will comprise of:
- Dr Raimond Jacquemard: a paediatrician based at Taranaki DHB
- Dr Murray Hunt: the Medical Director at Waipuna Hospice in Tauranga who has previous experience working in Alcohol and Drug Services
- Dr Mark Wardill: an anaesthetist based at Grace Hospital which is a private hospital in Tauranga
- Dr Mark Hotu: a GP who has established the Green Doctors, a clinic focusing on prescribing cannabis
- Nigel Gregory: a community pharmacist who owns Brookfield Unichem Pharmacy
- Elizabeth Plant: a pharmacist and the Chief Medical Officer of Eqalis Pharmaceuticals
Eqalis Managing Director, Greg Misson, says the Clinical Advisory Board will enable Eqalis to engage in the practicality of prescribing issues faced by doctors within their specific clinical settings. “It will help provide us with an insight into prescriber thinking and streamline our processes to improve efficacy of our products for patients.” The company is focused on improving quality of life for New Zealanders through everything they develop”
“We’re hearing from GPs that they just need time to engage with this new drug. Our training modules are designed to fast track their study and, along with the advice provided by our Clinical Advisory Board, we hope confidence in medicinal cannabis will increase,” says Misson.
Specific training modules in speciality areas such as paediatrics, palliative care and acute post-operative care will be developed using the expertise of the clinical advisory board members.
Since the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in April this year, uptake amongst the nation’s health professionals has been slow. Patient safety is a priority for all in the medical fraternity and cannabis is an extremely complex medicine.
The right combination of specific compounds of the cannabis plant, predominantly CBD, provides safe, effective, non-opioid pain relief to a wide spectrum of patients. The more controversial THC compound is a psychoactive component that gets recreational users high in one instance but can also be employed as a successful medicine for a range of clinical outcomes. THC has traditionally been viewed by many of the medical profession with scepticism.
Eqalis Pharmaceuticals Chief Medical Officer, Elizabeth Plant, says engaging with practising clinicians is essential to ensure relevance and to understand key patient related issues. “The committee will be key to ensuring clinical related decisions are made with appropriate peer review and that future training programmes are developed with expert input. It is important to work alongside practising clinicians who are making prescribing decisions. They have the expertise and the practical experience necessary and can highlight important clinical considerations. Each member of the committee brings a different patient perspective and it is extremely important for us to be able to understand and address any issues arising from this”, she says.
As Eqalis Pharmaceuticals works towards producing locally-grown medicinal cannabis, Greg Misson believes the positive clinical outcomes from this emerging drug field will become commonplace.
“We’ve already seen patients achieving significant relief from life-long, debilitating conditions with precise formulations prescribed under the care of experienced medical practitioners. It’s exciting to think that these successes can be multiplied to thousands of New Zealanders in the coming years. Another key focus for Eqalis is to drive the cost of the medication down for the patient and we feel this needs to be below $100 a month.
Our interest is the same as the medical fraternity’s - we want to see the lives of people enhanced.”
To learn more about Eqalis visit eqalis.co.nz