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EmpowerPharm is working on a synthetic CBD-based pill that will treat patients without the risk of addiction.
“We are going to pharmaceuticalize CBD,” Jack Kay, 80, who took on the role of EmpowerPharm vice-chairman in 2019, said in an interview.
The difference between what EmpowerPharm is doing and those creating “pot pills” is this will be not be a traditional cannabinoid product.
“There will be no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in it,” said Kay.
That means “this will not be a habit-forming” medication or create a high — just treatment.
“When you look at some of the devastating outcomes from benzodiazepine dependency for the treatment of anxiety, anecdotally, CBD offers a greater alternative,” Kay explained.
There was industry talk of such work in his 35 years at Apotex, but Kay said he has found in EmpowerPharm and owner Aubrey Dan the perfect fit to develop a treatment that would be prescribed by a doctor for anxiety. Dan’s father Leslie built Novopharm, which was later sold to Teva.
But now with Kay’s industry experience the goal is to create Canadian solutions and manufacturing.
Kay said there are lessons to be learned from the current vaccine problems unfolding now.
While “I will be one of the first in line to get a vaccine,” Kay said, “I think we have to plan for” a “future” where “this country has to be self sufficient and not “be dependent on other countries of the world to satisfy our basic requirements and that is vaccines and essential medicines.”
EmpowerPharm’s new anxiety pill is being tested and, upon receiving a nod from regulators, will be manufactured in Canada.
— Joe Warmington