HOMEGROWN medical cannabis is now available to German patients for the first time.
Aphria RX– a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian pharmaceutical and cannabis company Tilray – has become the first of the three licensed German producers to achieve this significant milestone.
The medical cannabis crop is the first grown under European Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) standard in Tilray’s 6,000sq m indoor growing facility in Neumünster, about 40 miles from Hamburg.
Aphria was one of three companies, along with Aurora and Demecan, to be granted a permit by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), in spring 2019, to cultivate medicinal cannabis.
Distribution of Aphria’s harvest to Germany’s pharmacies will be carried out by Frankfurt-based Cansativa. It won the the four-year contract year to become the sole distributor of all cannabis grown in Germany.
The delivery has been hailed as a ground-breaking achievement by Tilray’s International Director and Chief Strategy Officer, Denise Faltischek, who said: “Our harvest in Germany represents an important milestone in providing access to high-quality, reliable medical cannabis to patients and healthcare professionals in Germany.”
Until now, Germany has had to rely on imports primarily from the Netherlands and Canada since the Narcotics Drugs Act was amended in March 2017 to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medicines to seriously ill patients.
The country is estimated to have more than 130,000 medical cannabis patients with a state health insurance programme mostly picking up the costs.
Jakob Sons, co-founder of Cansativa, said: “The start of distribution is a great success, especially for patients. In total, 9,231 kilograms of cannabis flowers were imported into Germany for medical purposes in 2020 – 37% more than the year before.
“However, with slightly more than 300,000 approved prescriptions, the demand in the market could still not be completely covered. Often, doctors lack the corresponding specialised knowledge and pharmacies lack access to medical cannabis products.
“With the additional 2.6 tons of cannabis from German cultivation, this gap is increasingly being closed.”
Reliant On Imports
Jürgen Neumeyer, Managing Director of the German Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW) welcomed the development saying ‘the start of domestic production and distribution is great news for German medical cannabis patients’.
He went on to say the upper limit set by Germany’s Cannabis Agency for domestic cultivation is 2.6 tonnes with an ‘in-built flexibility to increase that to 3.9 tonnes’.
The three companies grow the cannabis on on behalf of the BfArM’s cannabis agency at a price of €2.3 per gram and it sells to pharmacies at a price of €4.30 per gram
Mt Neumeyer believes it will take some time for the homegrown to replace imports with the latter set to increase to 14 tones this year.
Tilray chief executive, Irwin Simon, welcomed the development: “Tilray’s achievement in Germany serves as a strong affirmation that we differentiate ourselves competitively by scale and proven execution skills.”
In May this year Tilray merged with Ontario headquartered Aphria to form a new company. Operating under the Tilray name, the move has created the world’s biggest cannabis company measured by revenue.
According to current forecasts, the European cannabis market is set to grow rapidly, with Prohibition Partners estimating it will be worth €403.4m by the end of this year with an compound annual growth rate of 67.4% predicted between 2021 and 2025 to reach €3.2bn.