VANCOUVER, BC. May 15, 2017 - Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX-V: AQS, OTCQB: AQSZF) (“Aequus” or the “Company”), a specialty pharmaceutical company with a focus on developing, advancing and promoting differentiated products, today announced results from a medical cannabis needs assessment survey it deployed involving 410 physicians in Canada and the United States. Aequus sought to understand the current attributes and therapeutic use of cannabis in the medical community including the delivery of cannabis, the limitations of use, the perceived benefits and risks in specific indications, and the gaps in knowledge in the field from a prescriber’s perspective.
“The results from this survey are timely, as Canada and other territories continue to evolve their regulations to improve and increase access to cannabis. To date, medical practitioners have been largely left out of the legislative process, and as a result, the challenges physicians are facing in recommending medical cannabis seem to be wide spread,” said Doug Janzen, Chairman and CEO of Aequus.
“This survey highlights physicians’ concerns around the currently available forms of cannabis, which were recognized to be unreliably administered and thus difficult to be measured for accurate dose-response in a clinical setting,” said Anne Stevens, COO and Director of Aequus. “Drug delivery is an area where Aequus has demonstrable expertise, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with the medical community in advancing pharmaceutical grade, quality medical cannabis products.”
Findings from this survey highlight the medical need for improved clinical trial data supporting safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, reliability of dose delivery systems, high quality data collection tracking real world clinical outcomes, physician education, and quality controlled ingredients. Aequus intends to leverage its expertise in developing and commercializing regulated prescription therapeutics and will work with third party partners, and the physician community, to develop pharmaceutical grade products for patients seeking the use of medical cannabis and to re-engage the physician in the treatment journey.
Key Survey Highlights:
The survey consisted of 202 physicians in Canada and 208 physicians in the USA – specifically in the state of California. The survey targeted primary care practitioners (36%), medical oncologists (24%), neurologists (20%), and psychiatrists (20%).
The majority of physicians (>90%) reported having been approached by a patient to discuss the use of medical cannabis in both Canada and the USA. Of the physicians surveyed, 46% reported providing patients with a medical note, while the other 54% were not comfortable for a variety of reasons. Physicians reported that 20% of cannabis medical documents provided are based on their own recommendation, typically treating chronic pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis. Meanwhile, patients that requested medical cannabis for treatment typically presented with chronic pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. The majority of Canadian physicians (51%) indicated that they recommend medical cannabis as a last resort treatment option as opposed to first line, second line, and adjunctive treatment.
The survey identified the patient therapeutic journey to be unique in nature, with professional healthcare support lacking when it comes to product selection, dose, and administration. The survey found that only 19% of physicians in Canada recommend a specific dosing regimen for patients, 38% recommend a specific form of medical cannabis, and 43% refer patients to a certain licensed producer. This data suggests that the patient is largely responsible for determining their own course of therapy with limited advice from physicians, and no support available from pharmacists.
Barriers to Use
Physicians emphasized concern over cannabis products; consistently rating clinical data, reliability of quantity delivered, and dose ingredient quality as areas that require the most improvement. In conjunction, 43% of prescribing physicians are concerned over the current delivery methods used to administer medical cannabis, commonly citing smoking, potency, and contamination as areas of concern. When asked to select preferred potential routes of delivery for cannabis, oral tablets, sublingual tablets and nasal spray were commonly chosen for acute conditions such as pain and movement disorders. For chronic disorders, transdermal patch delivery (both reservoir and matrix) were preferred along with oral tablets.
Aequus expects to publish the full results from this survey in the coming weeks.
About Aequus Pharmaceuticals
Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX-V: AQS, OTCQB: AQSZF) is a growing specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing high quality, differentiated products. Aequus’ development stage pipeline includes several products in neurology and psychiatry with a goal of addressing the need for improved medication adherence through enhanced delivery systems. Aequus intends to commercialize its internal programs in Canada alongside its current portfolio of marketed established medicines and will look to form strategic partnerships that would maximize the reach of its product candidates worldwide. Aequus plans to build on its Canadian commercial platform through the launch of additional products that are either created internally or brought in through an acquisition or license; remaining focused on highly specialized therapeutic areas. For further information, please visit www.aequuspharma.ca.