New Brunswick

High hopes for new dried cannabis pellet developed in Moncton

Moncton pharmacist Peter Ford says the new product he's developed in conjunction with Tetra Bio-Pharma will help people with chronic pain and those in palliative care.

The pellet contains a measured amount of THC and CBD

Moncton pharmacist Peter Ford says the new product he's developed in conjunction with Tetra Bio-Pharma will help people with chronic pain and those in palliative care. (Radio-Canada )

Moncton pharmacist Peter Ford has high hopes for a new dried cannabis pellet.

Ford, who's in collaboration with pharmaceutical company Tetra Bio-Pharma, said it's a unique product and he's hoping for approval from Health Canada.

"When we get a drug identification number, we can then sell it, commercialize it and have a pharmaceutical cannabis product. It's exciting and it's the first smokeable dosage form in the world," he said.

This new cannabis pellet could be the world’s first smokable medicinal tablet. 0:38

Ford said the product is in the final stages of pre-market approval and a lot of work has gone into its development.

He said the compressed tablet, also known as PPP001, contains 9.5 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 2.5 per cent cannabidiol (CBD) and must be smoked or vaporized.

Peter Ford shows the new product, the dried cannabis pellet. He's hoping it will be approved by Health Canada. (Radio-Canada)

Ford said during testing they invented an artificial lung to measure the amount of drug inhaled with each puff and they studied how much of the drug ended up in the blood stream. They also developed the pellet press and a pipe.

"The pipe we've developed, we know that every puff is going to deliver 1.77 milligrams of THC and .46 milligrams of CBD and then the pipe extinguishes so there is no waste," Ford said.

Ford said the drug is meant for a variety of patients.

"We are doing it for chronic pain, be it neuropathic, which means nerve pain, and we're also doing it in palliative care for end-of-life care to reduce pain," he said.

Ford's partner is Ontario-based Tetra Bio-Pharma, a publicly traded company.

Guy Chamberland is the chief scientist at Ontario-based Tetra Bio-Pharma. He says if the product is given approval by Health Canada, it will be available by prescription and covered by drug plans. (Radio-Canada )

Chief scientist Guy Chamberland said this product could help replace opioids such as fentanyl.

"We're really aiming for a medication that will be administered by prescription, that will be covered by a drug plan and that we'll finally have this proven in medical trials that meet all pharmaceutical medical industry standards so doctors can prescribe it knowing, 'Yes, it's safe, and yes, it works," Chamberland said.

Ford agreed.

"Right now cannabis, even though it's used under the [Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations], or what they call the ACMPR, people can not get reimbursed for it and when you get a [drug identification number] it then becomes a drug with a notice of compliance from Health Canada and then it becomes insurable from both private and public insurers," he said.

Peter Ford at work at his pharmacy on St. George Boulevard in Moncton. (Radio-Canada )

The pellet is in the final stages of clinical trials. If approved, it could be marketed by the end of next year.

Ford said he's built additional space in his current pharmacy on St. George Boulevard in Moncton, where the product will be made. A warehouse is also under construction in Scoudouc.

They hope to sell the drug in Canada, the United States and Europe.