ANKENY — The Des Moines company selected to grow marijuana and manufacture medical cannabis products would like to produce tinctures, creams, soft gels, suppositories and even inhalers that allow patients with a variety of ailments to get customized therapies.
“We want to create efficacious doses within the parameters established by the law,” Lucas Nelson, an attorney for Kemin Industries and a consultant with MedPharm Iowa, told the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board Friday morning.
The Iowa Department of Public Health on Tuesday released a notice of intent to license MedPharm Iowa a cannabidiol manufacturing license. The company, affiliated with Kemin, a Des Moines ingredient firm, would be charged with supplying medical cannabis products by Dec. 1, 2018.
The state will issue up to five licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries by April.
Tom Swegle, chief executive officer of MedCara Pharmaceuticals, of Conrad, demonstrated a transdermal cream applicator that would dispense 2.25 milliliters of prescription cannabis cream per click to be applied topically for joint pain, for example. A penlike oil dispenser also could be adapted to release one drop per click.
All products would be in child-resistant containers, like traditional medications.
MedPharm Iowa was the only company to apply for a manufacturer’s license, possibly because of the tight turnaround to develop products and an annual fee of $150,000 to $200,000, said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the public health department.
The relatively low cap for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, allowed in the products may restrict the market so manufacturers would have a hard time making it profitable.
“People are concerned about the sustainability of the program,” Reisetter said.
Iowa’s new medical marijuana law expands beyond chronic epilepsy the illnesses patients with a doctor’s prescription could treat with medical cannabis to include cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or HIV and others. But Nelson and others who spoke at the meeting Friday would like more conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder or ulcerative colitis.
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“We see this bill as a great start,” Nelson said. “The state and this board, we really do want to make this a collaborative effort to bring this treatment to the people of Iowa.”
Dr. Bob Shreck, a Des Moines oncologist and board member, expressed concern about the lack of research findings on the effectiveness of medical cannabis. The federal government has tightly controlled studies of medical marijuana, which advocates argue has hamstrung efforts to use these therapies legally.
“We, as doctors, are stuck,” Shreck said. “We live in an evidence-based world. I would be reluctant to open this wide open to every single use everyone wants this to be open to.”
At this time, the board does not plan to ask the Iowa Legislature to raise the THC limit or add more medical conditions, but will lobby for removing a prohibition on some felons getting medical cannabis. The state health department will request permission to retain fees to pay for the cost of the program.
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