Exclusive: One Of The Largest Pharma Companies In The World Just Got Into Cannabis
According to information procured exclusively ahead of a formal announcement Friday, a subsidiary of NYSE-traded giant Teva Pharmaceuticals has signed a deal with medical cannabis company Canndoc to distribute its GMP products to pharma customers, including hospitals, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and all pharmacies in Israel.
It should be noted that, almost by any measure, from market cap to revenue, Teva is one of the largest pharma companies in the world, and considered to be the biggest generic drug manufacturer in the globe. Needless to say, this is a big deal.
As per the agreement, Teva subsidiary Salomon, Levin, Elstein (or SLE for short) will not only distribute Canndoc’s products in Israel, but also seek to “provide logistics capability for exporting Canndoc’s products to countries that support regulations for the sale and distribution of cannabis products for medical use,” as soon as local regulations allow for it, Canndoc, a subsidiary of publicly traded company InterCure, explained.
‘A Complete Supporting Platform’
SLE’s CEO Aviad Bossi commented the agreement allows the companies to pair a “well-established pharmaceutical distribution network” with a “high quality medical cannabis industry presence and market leadership.”
Adding to these notes, Canndoc’s Chairman Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel, said, “Our agreement with S.L.E., Israel’s leading company in distributing medical products, creates a complete supporting platform for supplying Canndoc’s GMP products to any location in Israel and for countries with similar regulations… Through its S.L.E. partnership, Canndoc has aligned itself with one of the most prominent pharmaceutical companies in the world, for the distribution of cannabis-based medical treatments to countries that recognize the value of these medicines for people in need.”
The initial agreement will span for three years, but a term to automatically extend it for two-year periods at a time is included in the deal.
Big Pharma, Baby Steps
While this is not the first deal between a big pharma company and a cannabis-related business, it is among the couple notable ones to date – pharma is being careful with its approach to marijuana, hemp, CBD and related industries.
The other big deal announced to date: a development and distribution deal between Novartis and Tilray.
Johnson & Johnson has also been getting its feet wet in the proverbial canna-pond. Back in 2017, the company’s incubator, JLABS @ Toronto, admitted a cannabinoid biotech research company for the first time ever.
Beyond specific deals, a few big pharma companies have registered cannabinoid-related clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada. Among leaders in terms of registered trials are Sanofi, Pfizer and Merck. As for cannabis-related patents in the U.S., Abbvie stands out as a front-runner.
As the cannabis industry advances, we’ll likely see more and more big pharma companies ink deals with cannabis firms, or even make their own forays into the space, experts often argue. It’s just a matter of time. But one thing is clear: the movement has started, and it looks irreversible.
Author’s note: Interestingly enough, Teva seems to have been eyeing the cannabis market for quite a while. Back in 2016, the pharma behemoth had agreed to distribute a medical marijuana inhaler in Israel. However, it took more than two-and-a-half years for the device to clear all hurdles for launch, finally hitting the market in June of 2019. While the deal originally seemed to be an ancillary one, meaning Teva would not be dealing with actual cannabis – but only devices instead, it now looks like the company is also distributing the pre-loaded, cannabis-containing cartridges the Syqe inhaler uses.