About the talk
Educating Patients & Physicians on Medical Cannabis with Dr. Ian Atkinson | CanMar 2020
by Dr. Ian Atkinson, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer of Grow Biotech
This talk was originally hosted on Friday, October 23rd, 2020 by dutchie's Shahbaaz Kara-Virani at the CanMar Global Conference & Expo, aimed at bringing together the cannabis community worldwide.
00:01 How are you, Sir? - Dr. Ian Atkinson
01:00 Bringing people together
02:18 Support for customers
04:15 How do you capture opportunities at that moment that actually lead you to success?
10:56 Work across the globe
13:58 Educating doctors and physicians
17:00 How do you end up building the prescription out from that perspective?
19:02 The global market trends
22:20 Some advice
24:34 Promising cannabinoids
27:41 Closing thoughts
Experienced C-Suite officer with a demonstrated history of working in the life science industry. Skilled in product Development, Medical Devices, Biotechnology, and Healthcare. Strong scientist with a Post-Doctoral Fellowship focused in Nutritional Sciences from UC Berkeley.View the profile
Thanks so much. How are you? Sir? Atticus? Snowing right now. It makes it seems it's a little less less talkin about Kayaking and talking about going into the Ottawa Valley right now. They're enough. I'm happy to report that. It's a really nice day here in Toronto. So sun shining. No snow yet, but I'm sure it'll come. I'm looking forward to the day that we can do this again on a panel at a conference looking forward to that. But let's let's get going and really excited to have you here in really excited to be chatting at first and foremost, you know, thank you two can more or by putting on this
amazing conference at a time of just our the world of cannabis is exploding. It's just imperative that we have leaders like him are in the sky. To help bring people together. So again, thank you Ken Mar for helping us do this. Today. We're going to be talking with doctor and I can soon I had a chance to speak with them a couple days ago excited to share his story and I'd really dive into some of his thoughts. So you'd want to we start with you know, everyone I think by now knows your name cuz I might have said it in the last three or four thousand times, but tell me tell us a little bit
more about you Ian. You know, what's your full name? And where you live in today? And of course a little bit about what you do and do and how you got to be here. So Ian Atkinson actually don't like the term doctor. I'm probably one of the few people who has a hard time with it partly because there's only one person I feel comfortable actually using the phrase, and that's a woman and her 90s. It was a cheerleader when I was just starting out. So I am and I always have been, I always will be, I actually am the co-founder of grow biotech. I'm
the chief scientist with them to uk-based company that actually has three separate arms, but they're all integrated into support for patients. So it's an additional company with the intent on, trying to better enable access of inexpensive, an appropriate medicines for patients. So, on the R&D side, we're trying to reduce the costs and improve supply chain for patients, by improving access to cannabinoids either through technologies. That would help to isolate individual cannabinoids at a reasonable price. At the same time, we're working on the Import and Export of products into
the UK. So that, if you're a prescribing physician, and you want to prescribe a product, where does it come from? How do you get it? How do you actually imported into the UK? And how do you get it to the patients themselves? And similarly, then there's the trade aspect which would be important export between jurisdictions because the challenge of trying to get enough medicine to where it's needed means that certain jurisdictions will be able to manufacture certain jurisdictions will want to receive, how do you actually navigate that process and trying to help to navigate not only the
regulatory. But also some of the challenges that come about because it has to be u g. M p going into Europe, for example. Wow, looks so, so, so that's it. I mean, that's, that's alright, that's incredible. You had your hands and so many different important facets of the way in which information moves cannabis moves, knowledge moves on its really, really a beautiful to see, but you know, what struck me about about in talking to you, initially was your doing all of these things and forever looking for coming to the industry, you know,
that's extremely have daunting right at. Obviously, you do not a doctor but doesn't like being called doctor at the top of his game, building a company. So, you know what, two things I asked you the other day that I love for you to share with the team is, what's your journey here? How did you acquire the skills necessary to lead an organization that building such important pieces of this industry. So I think the problem is it almost seems like I actually had a plan. So there was a lot of serendipity. So I have a PhD in plant molecular biology and biochemistry. So I'm
actually a botanist by training, but I didn't really work in the plant space for many, many years. Because when I first, when I left my PhD, I went into nutritional Sciences at Berkeley. And doing that got cross trained into other areas. After my postdoc, I actually joined us, small biotech company in California, in Silicon Valley and got to learn more about genomics and we got to learn a whole lot more about the genetics aspects of, not only plants but humans and and across-the-board in an area called micro a raise. So
high troop of genomics tools. That seems like it would actually be directly related to the Cannabis space and it is, but it wasn't with intent. It was because of opportunities and because when there's change, there's a real interesting Dynamic that happens when you find that, you're not enjoying yourself in a particular job. And so you change it. We like to see the opportunities that if I wasn't happy with the direction, maybe it was because I was doing things that I wasn't particularly enamored with. I didn't have passion for, I would actually try different opportunity. So, when I was in
the acquired, by our machine pharmacia, which eventually got a choir by GE, so, I got to see a change of how things were run in a start-up versus more of a large multinational company. From there. I actually went back to Canada return to Canada and became an academic for a couple of years and as an industrial scientist, coming from California, going back to Canadian academic environment. It wasn't for me. It wasn't something that I found passion with and so I went back to Industry and I joined a small start-up in nice looking. Sorry, in San Diego called
aluminum. And so now they're they grow on their own. They're not last. I checked the 34 billion dollar market, cap came back to Canada to deal with ailing parents because I grew up in a dungeon. And so after getting my PhD at the U of A, I figured I wasn't going to be coming back, but I came back to Alberta. And while I was here, my best friend asked me to start a small. Start up with him, was a medical device company that products now got us FDA clearance. It's got c, e, Mark in Europe, and is being sold in 40 countries. Not too many buttons to have medical device background. No,
understanding that all of those pieces are Lessons Learned their opportunities to gain from the opportunity. You're in, you might be working at McDonald's, but you learn a lot about supply chain and you learn a lot about manufacturing. It's those to those opportunities using those opportunities as they're presented to you. Incredible. So I mean, let's let's drill into that a little bit because, you know, for someone coming into the space today, you know, whatever job that they're in right now. How do you start to feel kind of
mentioned it with whether you're working at McDonald's? You little bit about supply chain. But how do you really take advantage of the opportunity that you're working? So that you can acquire, you know, some some set of skills that can be applied into the Cannabis industry because again, there's no playbook for skills in this industry. Adams. Help us understand a little bit more in that moment, which obviously like you to some success. I think the easiest way is to actually, just cherish the moment live in the moment and make every opportunity. The best opportunity that it is.
I love the idea that you can actually get a start in this industry from the get-go. Even if it's some low-level entry level job. The girl relatively quickly because it's a very Dynamic industry, especially when it comes to the fact that in the last session with dr. Tony. It was a talk about an improvement in sophistication and an improvement in regular this required. As there's a requirement for g u g. M p. As there's a requirement for Nobel Foods discussions and the regulatory side of things. People who are just entering the industry, may get an opportunity
to learn about the regulations and the regulatory path and maybe that's crashing point for them that they actually, I don't know anybody who actually went into regulatory with that primary intent. They actually redirect from something else. Maybe it was biology. Maybe it was chemistry. Maybe it was a biology, but the fact is when they went into their primary research areas and got their bachelor's degree didn't actually intend on becoming a regular person. Perhaps you're in a medical like a clinical medicine field like you got a master's degree in data management
for clinical trials, perhaps that leads you into a role of a medical science liaison so that you can actually interact with Physicians from an education perspective, to teach them about cannabis to teach them about prescribing. So there's a really cool areas where Opportunities present themselves from within organizations that you would never have thought. So if you throw yourself into the opportunity that you've got management will see that no doubt in his own in on your role in a second and went some of the stuff you're doing it grow. And I think that's important for everyone to
know because it's really easy to see you as a leader of this company now. And just know that you think that you have everything figured out, right? Don't have everything, but taking from different places and taking from different environments and being intentional about the opportunity that you're you're capturing is is is really, really key. So we're going to we're going to dive into that a little bit and I'm going to stop you after the next question to plug in my laptop, but what I will ask is so, you know, you're doing
a lot of great work across the globe right now. Specifically, you know, obviously facilitating a lot of good work in the Text help us understand the flow of information between yourselves, doctors and then work that you're doing. I mean, how do you even start to because there's no Playbook and start to find a common ground where you start to actually you don't have those meaningful conversations start to create something that again hasn't been created before. I think the easiest way to start the discussion is to go from the patient side. So if you actually
consider what they need, they need prescriptions, they need educated, doctors to give them. What is the most appropriate medicine for their condition. You would hoped first off that, they would be at the beginning of the algorithm rather than at the end of the algorithm, but that's just the nature of the laws and the my own personal beef needs training. And if there's not enough randomized, controlled trials, cuz those trials, cost a hundred million dollars. The likelihood. Is there going to have evidence? That's going to be a little bit
shaky. Educating a patient educating the Physicians on the quality of the data and understanding what is needed to make. Better decisions is one step. And I think the that's the initial step to being able to do what we do from a technology side. If we're trying to make products that are the most appropriate products for the patient. We need to know what the Physicians are willing or capable of prescribing if we want to make a metered dose inhaler. So if you want to make salbutamol type
inhaler so you can just inhale a spray. What does that mean to look like with a physician even prescribe that product? And so you need a formulation chemist. You need somebody who can actually help with not only getting that product in the right format. But also then doing all the testing to make sure that is the right format. For the delivery of that product may be better suited as a tablet, or a joke app. And at that point, you have brought in all of these domain experts either you brought them in and house. So you've actually contracted to small firms that I actually do pharmacokinetics
and pharmacodynamics. So there's a lot of expertise as being brought into the industry. That wasn't in the Cannabis space before. Absolute. Maybe I'll lose you but you know with the rise of cannabis and then in what you're doing and is especially leading from the patient side. You know, it it always begs the question around at Big Pharmaceuticals, right? And changing attitudes around big Pharmaceuticals and the impact is going to be so I'm sure it's a mean question number one. How do you
foresee, you know just this next room in cannabis and packing karmaceuticals on it from a Global Perspective. And also when you are educating these doctors and Physicians on changing patient attitude with how are they responding to cannabis as a medicine today to your question. One is the farmer has been in the Cannabis industry for a long time. The difference between, but they've been using modified cannabinoids in API grade traditional farmhouse style. So there are existing
cannabinoids that have been on the market for a while now, maybe not extracted from Cannabis may be synthesized and may be modified accordingly, but they've been in the Cannabis space. They just haven't been in the plant-based extraction, cannabis space. So if you consider that traditional, North American European Pharma is more like a single dose single API with acceptance and a single dose regimen. And then you compare that to ayurvedic medicine or traditional Chinese medicine where you're looking at decoctions of whole plant where that whole
Entourage are pharmaco, Synergy is actually related. The actual plant-based medicines are more like the whole plant utilization component, where you're actually trying to do extracts. You're trying to do decoctions and macerated boils. So therefore they don't really fit to one. Another is very hard to get a traditional Chinese medicine into a North American. Pharmacopoeia. So I think the challenge with that is you have to kind of bridge, the gap between the two Styles. If you want to be doing pure THC, based pills, you're going to have all the problems with your TSC
pill with regard to its anxiety and its side effects. You're going to have a problem because you're not going to get any of the benefits of terpenes or bioflavonoids or any of the complementation that happens with the whole plant. So the education is not just of API grade Pharmacy. It's not just a whole plant utilization is where in the middle? Can you meet? Because you have to get the normalization of consistency of a product that would be appropriate for a North American style prescription. The same time, you want all of the benefits of multiple compound from
the ayurvedic style of medicine where you're actually taking this to help to keep you. Well. And when most people consume cannabis, they're not consuming to an end point. They're consuming to their own. They feel that they've got their effect. They're looking for, they're not doing it from a concentration. I'm going to take exactly 1.2 milligrams to get that. They do it to an endpoint. So the fact is that a different way to prescribe a really good point. That is a very different way to describe prescribed. So, I mean, it's not like, what's the starting point?
They're like, how do you end up building the prescription out from that perspective? It is based on the endpoint and not, you know, that dosage for infants start slow that if you can't get the effect with the primary prescription, you have good constant dialogue with the position so that you can actually get to that point. So that's part of it. It's, it's part of the interaction that's required, is that it's a different way of doing medicine, but it's also an appropriate way of doing medicine, where the position is more involved. Especially in some of these
cases like some of the prescriptions are being made for things like multiple sclerosis with spasticity or perhaps. It's with Tremor associated with epilepsy. Do you have to actually consider? Where are you getting the effect and is the dosage? Correct? How do you increase the dose without actually overshooting? These are just some simple questions. It takes, good education, from the Medical Science liaison. Good randomized. Control to reviewed literature to help prove that this is the right indication for this particular compound or set of compounds. It's
just the same thing that's being done in Pharmacy for many, many years. I have a whole host of questions. And I know we have a 10 minutes last year and maybe I'll save some of those questions for just you and I I know Rafael has a question in an in will get to that. I he's curious about which, which is the most common lab analysis Theory cheese for raw materials and finished products, which will get you. However, the bad that's going to be the last question. I hope that's okay. And one more question for you and
ask you this the other day, you know, what statue questions for. Really quick. Number one, what are two or three global market trends that you see coming on board? The next 235 years. I mean you have such an interesting lens viewpoint on the global market. So help us understand from that perspective, some friends that are arising. I think one of the most obvious ones is sophistication and rigor is that there is no greater expectation. That this is what's going to be less, Cowboy. This is going to be where you GMP is going to be mandated for any product coming into Europe
and that that goes all the way back to the farm to a certain extent. In that, if it's a processor, who's got the UGM Bi-State us, they're going to be going back and doing Supply are audits on those Farms. So the QT in the processor is going to be looking at those all the way back to the entire process has other pesticides. And they heavy metals. Is there pesticides on blow over from some of the neighbors kind of challenges. So not just see it. But also making sure that they have a responsibility because they're going to be held accountable for that. I agree to rigor that's coming. In the
products that are being expected because based on the conversation, we had yesterday. If you're Jameson vitamins and you had a product that had multiple components in it and it has a note amount of vitamin C in an unknown amount of vitamin D and you don't know exactly how much of the rest of the compounds are in there. It may not have any of it in there. They may have some of it in there. Going to be very inconsistent is going to be a lot of bass shabash variability. Nobody would buy that product that we're going to see a lot more of that type of rigor being introduced. And so there's
going to be bigger are bars. When it comes to, the plant is going to be lesser bars when it comes to value-added, products to go down the down the path as well. As they start becoming more important CBG CBN and the any of these rare cannabinoids. There's going to be a rigger to make sure that there's a consistent amount of those if that is, in fact in the Prada. So there's going to be standards for the analytics labs are going to the question about what most common analytics and atlases.
That's a tough one because the raw material is going to be all over the place. If the top of the plants in the bottom of the plant, have different cannabinoid profiles. It's going to be very difficult to actually do a test of 2 or 3 acres worth of product. I'm getting a very consistent results across the board. Absolutely. I hope that answered your question and please do follow up with us. If you have any more questions, I'd leave that open to everyone want to be engaging as possible. So far. She questions
for us. That any questions you have about this panel in the in the Canmore link and email trying to address together. Who knows? You will be on another panel together. You do with a couple minutes less. I really want to drill into, you know, two areas number one. There's a lot of individuals are looking to come into this face with a lot of great degrees and with a lot of people with big brains and enjoy doing big things across the world. What's some advice? You might give to them coming to the space, take it from the lens of, you know, if you could give yourself your younger
self, some of that advice and you were just entering into the space the first time or looking to get in cannabis was two-years-old knowing what you know, now what would you tell everyone? What are your thoughts would you know who helped us? Understand that I love it. I think the first thing is going to be that not everything is actually directly cannabis-related but it's very useful information to know. I would never have thought that my background and medical devices would directly translate into cannabis knowledge or cannabis expertise, but having gone through the medical device
process, a quality management system is absolutely key and understanding How to run a facility how to deal with Sops and how to deal with this. So the opportunities that you may have right now or about to partake opportunity, may be something that's very telling a very educational even though it's not directly related to specifically the education past that would be. So it's not not everyone has a traditional education by that said passion is good skills are better. So if you go to college, if you go to university and actually get a degree in that
regulatory space, it's going to pay dividends because there's going to be a big demand for people who have understanding of quality management systems and of Sops and the documentation necessary to bad. If you got a background that doesn't necessarily exactly fit but you've actually gained as much as you can in business development or perhaps in some of the other areas which are not quite so Tech. That's actually cross training. So I never actually got formalized training and an MBA, but I have to be sitting on boards and I have to actually deal
with the finances. I actually have to deal with the finances of grow, in terms of budgeting. That wasn't something that gets trained in my PhD, so when you learn, while the opportunities present themselves, that was definitely, not something I was taught in your PhD in. Wow. Okay. So we we have a question here by Sam's. Sam is asking which cannabinoid seems specially promising to you going forward in the industry. Well, okay. I answer that with two points.
I think the most interesting cannabinoid to me is actually thcv. The reason is because thcv is one of those compounds, that does something that nobody expected it would do. Partly, it's the skinny weed. That's right. Thcv is actually gives you the Auntie Munchies. So it reduces the, the the munchie contact, but in small amounts, that's exactly how it could be overused or it could be. Overwhelming of a system, it's a homeostatic compound. And therefore if you take too much of it, it may actually make you sad in the same way that compounds Black Box
something. So there are cannabinoids do cannabinoids that were formulated in the lab that are looking awful lot like their response to that would be very much to thcds a profile. And these compounds actually they lead to depression. They lead to Suicidal Tendencies. So it might be helpful in the weight loss industry. If it's taken in moderation and helps to balance homeostasis. If you over take it, it would be extremely important understand where that overshoot would be. So that's from a scientific from a purely Geeks perspective. In terms of
the other compounds, like, sort of the secondary parts of the question. Are there other compounds that excite the industry. I think CBG is the next big thing. So it's going to come out at eyes. Very much like CBD has with regard to its pricing is going to drop for the API grade materials. I think it's very interesting because we haven't really explored it in much detail. It is the the parent compound to both CBD and THC in terms of the biochemical pathway. So there's going to be some commonalities and some differences between these compounds. But
I think there's some interest to be had not just from a pure product perspective but also from a clinical trial perspective, what could it be used for? What should it be used for? I don't really know the answer to this and I think what's going to happen is if more people start manufacturing with high. Dbg strange, we're going to start seeing more Hi-C BG, products showing up on the market, and we'll start to find out some of that if it's done in a rigorous, an appropriate manner. Wow, I just learned so much and I hope everyone did as well, not even know
thcv existed in. So I mean with with witches, closing thoughts, and you know anything, anything you want to add for any closing thoughts, anything that you want to tell the industry anyone who's watching, you know, that you should see the comments right now if you can but you're like a rock star right now. It is fascinating. People yelling. Yeah. I like I'm telling you. It's awesome. I love cannabinoid gigs. This is gray. A perfect rock star in. You're killing it
in anything. You want to just leave the group with before. We let you go in and get on with your weekend. I think the total number of cannabinoids or probably if you consider all of the ice the forms, all of the chemistry of it, we're talkin over. 2840, we don't know the exact number plant has such a plethora of really cool things to study, not just from an academic and from a basic science perspective, but from a nap slide and using these products for other good. In in society. I would love to see more work being
done at the academic level at the industrial level. You can just at the clinic a level to start seeing how these compounds could be should be might be used. They don't even have standards for most of them so that they can run them in the analytics. Sof groups, that make these compounds groups that have the ability to test these compounds for different preclinical and clinical type analyses. What could they do? I don't know. Soap soap, I understand it correctly. You're sexually saying we're .0001 percent into actually
knowing what we can possibly do with this beautiful, amazing play. As a result as we start to learn more about it. This industry is just going to continue to grow. It's going to continue to to ensure that there's a new research coming out and do the new abilities to use this plant in so many different ways by isolating these compounds and it's myself. I hope you enjoyed speaking with me as much as I enjoyed speaking with you. And for anyone looking I guess to, you know, maybe read show. Cuz I don't
want to bombard you on anything, but maybe, you know, I don't know how that's working on the cameras. I'd be shooting to know door or shoot me a note and I can reach out sending you not know. I'm sure you all have many questions. But again, thank you so much for I'm in a really, really appreciate speaking with you. Thanks so much. I just put my email on the, on the thank you so much for having me for letting my passion to come through.
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