By Sy Mukherjee
December 18, 2018

Good afternoon, readers.

2018 was a landmark year for marijuana policy in the U.S. (not to mention for our neighbors to the north). Heck, just yesterday, former cannabis skeptic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said he’d make legalizing recreational marijuana a top priority for 2019.

Industry tends to go where the policy winds blow. And that’s no different in the life sciences.

On Tuesday, Canadian marijuana firm Tilray said that it had struck a partnership with Swiss drug giant Novartis to help develop and distribute legal medical marijuana. Novartis’ generic drug arm, Sandoz, will help Tilray commercialize its (non-smokable) products, the company said.

Part of the rationale is to give these products a serious branding boost from a respected and well-known drug maker. “It just made sense for us to reach an agreement with a company like Sandoz, which is known for its focus on patients, its reliable supply chain, a well-established sales force and a global distribution network,” Tilray chief Brendan Kennedy tells Bloomberg. “If a product comes into a pharmacy with the Sandoz logo co-branded on it, or if a pharmaceutical sales rep is talking to a physician about a product that’s branded as Tilray and Sandoz, it lends credibility to that product.”

Readers may recall that U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals became the first company to win Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a marijuana-derived treatment earlier this year. That milestone helped catalyze a flurry of interest in the space—the Tilray-Sandoz deal could prove a similar landmark for pure medical cannabis products.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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