Canntab Therapeutics Limited
On a medical mission
Business View Magazine interviews Jeff Renwick, CEO of Canntab Therapeutics Ltd., for our focus on the Cannabis Industry in Canada.
Canntab Therapeutics is on a mission to provide doctors with a proper, accurate medical solution for prescribing cannabis. Currently, Canntab is the only company in North America to have developed a product line of solid oral dose formulations for a variety of cannabis cannabinoid (THC & CBD) and terpenoid blends in exacting dosages. With 13 patents pending in Canada and the United States, covering proprietary processes and solid oral dose formulations for extended release, immediate release, flash melt, and bi-layered medications, Canntab is showing a clear and sustainable competitive advantage.
Additionally, Canntab has applied for its Cannabis Research Licence in Canada. The research licence will probably be acquired before Canntab obtains Licensed Producer status, which will allow the company to receive oil and begin preparing product submissions to Health Canada for full-scale manufacturing. Canntab trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the symbol PILL, on the OTCQB under the symbol CTABF, and on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol TBF1.
The company’s Markham, Ontario facility is designed and fully equipped to accommodate all manufacturing necessary to produce pharmaceutical grade cannabis hard pill formulations (solid oral dosage forms), which the firm believes is the future of medical cannabis. “After almost a year-and-a-half of consulting, designing, and building, we have reached an important milestone in Canntab’s business development: we have submitted our final evidence package to Health Canada for review,” explains Jeff Renwick, Co-Founder and CEO of Canntab. “With our license, we will be able to manufacture hundreds of thousands of hard pills a day in a growing variety of formulations that are unique in the marketplace.”
Over the past 18 months, Canntab has been working on the development of tablets and different delivery systems at a Cobourg, Ontario facility owned by licensed producer, FSD Pharma, while building out their Markham facility in order to be a licensed producer non-grower. In other ground-breaking news, in Nov. 2019, Canntab Therapeutics entered into a supply and distribution agreement with Florida-based Exactus Inc., an industrial hemp farm operator and manufacturer of hemp-derived phytocannabinoid products. Exactus is providing Canntab a subleased space in its facility to equip for the purpose of manufacturing advanced hemp-derived cannabinoid tablets to be distributed throughout the U.S.
Emiliano Aloi, President and CEO of Exactus states, “We have been searching for a precision delivery system that matches the quality of our farming and supply chain, and we are pleased to have found a perfect fit. This will facilitate the launch of our medical practitioner distribution channel with a differentiated product that separates us from our competitors, providing consumers with a precise dose of hemp derivates in instant release, as well as time release delivery systems that they know.”
Renwick adds, “The logic of combining our delivery systems with Exactus’ fully traceable supply chain was compelling. Our goal has been to develop a relationship with a trusted partner that allows us to bring our unique products to market in the U.S. and for our shareholders to benefit from that opportunity. I can confidently say that we have successfully achieved that goal, as our agreement with Exactus opens the door to the growing CBD market in the U.S, in which our unique product is perfectly positioned to thrive.” The supply agreement states that Canntab will purchase ingredients from Exactus to be used in Canntab’s proprietary formulations, and the distribution agreement calls for the sharing of gross profits in a variety of ways dependent on how the sale is made and distributed.
For Canntab, 2019 was all about readiness – building their product line; getting set, regulatory-wise; prepping the Markham facility to start manufacturing on a commercial scale; and adding people to the mix to get all that done. The license will allow them to do everything any other LP in Canada can do, except for cultivate-to-harvest. The intention is to produce tablets in a GMP pharma facility and have those distributed mainly through the medical system in Canada, as a medical product. Canntab also has a deal with a company called World Class Extractions. They are installing high-end equipment in the Markham facility to expand into high-end extraction capabilities, plus doing fractional distillation and further separation of cannabinoids to advance Canntab’s tablet research beyond THC and CBD into CBN and CBG and CBC. That building is approximately 20,000 square feet and, currently, has only 6,700 square feet of licensed area. So, there is a lot of room for future expansion.
From an employment perspective, Canntab runs a lean operation. “I give a lot of credit to our staff,” says Renwick. “In order to get all the licensing and SOPs that are required, on top of all the pharmaceutical technology we have, it’s been a real battle of paperwork and trying to align all these different government agencies to be able to have a finished product in here. There is health and safety with extraction; fire regulations; all the security around the Cannabis Act to prevent diversion and sabotage of products by employees – so many regulations. We’re dealing with workers’ health and safety now, with a narcotic product, so everybody needs to be trained in first-aid procedures. There are chemicals onsite and every single person, even in the accounting department, has to know the safety sheets for isopropyl alcohol, for example, and how to administer first aid if someone gets exposed to it. For a small staff, that pretty much sums up what they’ve had to go through over the last year.”
The company did a lot of research and consultation in the U.S. before finally finding a suitable partner in Florida. And that’s what they’re doing now in Canada. Renwick admits, “We’re looking for a partner that will give us a scenario of 100,000 patients who are taking one tablet a day. A lot of people want to do that but we have to be convinced. We’re being very pragmatic when it comes to licensing for Canada because the market’s pretty regulated here and once you tie up with somebody, you’re basically married. We want someone with the right reputation; with the focus on keeping it medicinal and making a medical claim.”
Making a medical claim on the product is a priority, moving forward; being able to prove that claim, so that doctors who are uncertain can read the data that’s been generated by the company or by third parties and comfortably say, “I’m going to prescribe this product for an analgesic and it’s going to be safe and efficacious for my patients.” The only way doctors can do that is if the company goes through a clinical study and is approved by Health Canada as a true GMP operation. “There is additional licensing required,” says Renwick. “To make a medical claim, you really have to become a pharma facility. And then you need approval by Health Canada with no objections to conduct a clinical study. We’ll be conducting that study with the University of British Columbia, once we get all the licensing in order. We have secured and designed the study, and we’re going to try to reduce the amount of opioids people are given in orthopedic surgery. So, for us to get into a real relationship with a larger LP for marketing, they would have to have the same vision we have.”
Eric Malinski, Canntab’s Director of Marketing, responds, “Right now, the doctors who would like to prescribe cannabis don’t have a proper medical solution; nothing that has a very accurate dose between pills, or a timed-release formulation. They have oils that you drip on your tongue, and pot that you smoke. So it’s sort of a two-phase approach, in the sense that they’ll become aware of this true medical solution and that will get some traction for our product. And when we have the clinical trials and are capable of making medical claims, that will be another step above. So, there is significant room to grow on that front. And a lot of it has to do with awareness of a medical solution, because there just isn’t one.”
As for the next steps, Renwick says, “Now that we’ve secured our strategy for the U.S. and have a deal in place that facilitates that, we’re going to put more effort into evaluating a European business model now. We have a number of leads in the U.K., strong potential in eastern Europe, a few companies in Germany that have expressed interest, and a company out of Spain, as well. In the meantime, our Markham facility is very close to becoming licensed and that will be a pivoting point for us. It moves us from development to manufacturing and marketing. We’ll need to do a lot of business development, going from having no revenue to having revenue, and that’s a significant change of gears. The first part of 2020 is going to be transformational for this company in a big way.”
AT A GLANCE
Who: Canntab Therapeutics Limited
What: A cannabis technology company
Where: Markham, Ontario