Ireland’s medical cannabis sector is finally starting to take shape after the Ministry of Health approved two more products this week.
Canadian firm Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) was given the green light to start shipping High CBD Oil Drops to the Emerald Isle. Australian company MGC Pharmaceuticals was also permitted to start supplying Ireland with CannEpil, a formulation that is high in CBD, low in THC and used to treat epilepsy.
These products have been added to a regulatory schedule in Ireland and doctors can now prescribe them to patients under the new Medical Cannabis Access Programme. This summer, Tilray (NASDAQ: TLRY) became the first producer to supply the Irish market with finished oral cannabis solutions, but no other company has been successful in gaining approval until this week.
Aurora’s CBD oil can be dispensed to anyone in Ireland suffering from spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting, and severe, refractory epilepsy. “We want to acknowledge the efforts made by many people, especially the patients and doctors who have campaigned for access to these medicines,” said Aurora’s chief product officer, Dr. Shane Morris.
CannEpil is available for anyone suffering from severe epilepsy. Ireland has an estimated epilepsy patient population of 37,000. CannEpil is produced at MGC Pharma’s GMP-certified facility in Slovenia, and it is now targeting approval in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and other EU markets.
Ireland’s Minister for Health, Simon Harris, signed the Medical Cannabis Access Programme into law in June 2019. He called it an important milestone for the country and said it is designed to facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons, where conventional treatment has failed.
It runs for an initial five-year period, at which point it can be extended if it is deemed a success. It followed widespread protests through Dublin as Irish patients demanded cannabis reform.
The government initially agreed to legalize medicinal marijuana back in 2016, but patients have been forced to continue buying from the black market due to delays in rolling out a legal industry. Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar previously blamed an inability to find a suitable supplier for the delay, but established companies like Aurora and Tilray are keen to sell their products in a potentially lucrative Irish market.