Our CEO, Rob Davidson sat down for a chat with Cannabis Radio to discuss the particular advantages of our oral thin film, CUREfilmŪ and the benefits of our technology in the delivery of cannabinoid molecules.
Listen to “Innovative Drug Delivery And Development” on Spreaker.
This interview was originally published on Oct 1, 2019 on CannabisRadio.com
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Ellis: Welcome to the “Cutting Edge of Cannabis”. I’m your host, Ellis Smith and today we’re gonna be speaking with Rob Davidson who’s the CEO of CURE Pharmaceutical which is a company focusing on optimizing drug delivery. Rob, it’s great to have you on today. Thanks for coming.
Rob: Yeah, thank you for having me on the show today.
Ellis: Now Rob, your background is pretty impressive. You’ve got quite a bit of experience in the pharmaceutical world and a couple of master’s degrees in project management and public health. What brought you into working with CURE Pharmaceutical with your background?
Rob: So yeah. my background…actually spent…actually 25 years in drug delivery technology companies mainly in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical world and really looked at the unmet needs in delivering, you know, difficult to deliver drugs in the pediatric sector and really decided that we needed a better way of delivering the medications to pediatric patients and looking at the OTF, the oral thin films technology. We actually founded CURE in 2011. I founded it with five other individuals from the pharmaceutical industry. Most of those individuals were early-stage Amgen employees or executives that since retired from Amgen and decided, “Hey, we wanna do this again.” So we founded CURE to be a platform drug delivery company.
Ellis: Okay. And in 2011 obviously hemp was not on your radar. What really brought that to the forefront of your team to focus on this industry and this space?
Rob: That’s a great question. Actually we were working with Los Angeles Children’s Hospital at the time. Around 2013 I think, we started working with Los Angeles Children’s Hospital just looking at some delivery vehicles as far as delivering drug actors to again pediatric patients. Mainly oncology patients, cancer patients that, you know, get nauseous and they can’t take your typical oral medications, they can’t keep it down or, you know, they don’t wanna have an invasive way of delivering…you know, injecting every day, going to the hospital because a lot of these patients sometimes are outpatients as well.
So we were working with Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and cannabis was being used by some of the patients’ parents on these kids to eliminate nauseousness, to induce, you know, better eating habits, better eating behaviors. So it was interesting because they were one of the first hospitals to allow parents to administer, you know, cannabis to patients. So that really sparked a deeper interest in working with the cannabinoid molecules.
Ellis: Well, that’s pretty progressive happening back in 2011 and 2013 or whenever this was happening early in the 2000s. And so pretty neat to see you guys were part of that wave coming into this and participating along that pathway.
As I looked on your website and learned more about what you guys are doing you kinda have two categories with a third one coming in and I’d like to learn more about that, how you got your nutraceutical aspect, your pharmaceutical aspect, but also this new cannabinoid aspect that I saw on your website that’s kinda taking over. And if you could explain to me these differences and do they cross over. Do you see some of these products that are developed that could come into the pharmaceutical world?
Rob: Very good questions there. On the multiple verticals I think you’re asking me as far as the nutra vertical, the pharmaceutical vertical and the cannabinoid space, cannabis vertical. Yeah, we do see a lot of crossover in the verticals. The nutraceutical vertical which we really look at it as more of a functional, you know, functional medical food vertical if you will or nutraceuticals that have a true functional aspect to them. And even looking at nutraceuticals that affect the endocannabinoid system. Let me just…if you don’t mind me just discussing that a little bit.
Really, what really got us excited about the cannabis space is not the cannabis plant itself. What got us excited was…it was the endocannabinoid system and the potential to treat different disease states and indications utilizing…it doesn’t matter what type of active…you know, actives that affect the endocannabinoid system. It doesn’t have to be from the cannabis plant. There are other terpenes and cannabinoid-like molecules that affect the endocannabinoid system. So we believe, you know, at CURE we believe the endocannabinoid system itself is the new frontier of medicine or potential new frontier of medicine for treating a multitude of diseases. Even nutraceutical deficiencies, you know, in the body and creating better health.
So that’s what kept us excited and that’s why each vertical that we look at like the nutraceutical vertical can cross over into the cannabinoid vertical because a lot of the nutraceutical products that we’re looking at actually affect the endocannabinoid system. And by affecting the endocannabinoid system, you know, there’s a potential combination of these actors of some of the nutra side or, you know, food side, if you will, that can cross over into the pharma side for treatments with different pharmaceutical indications and treat…and cross over into the combinations of using cannabinoid molecules in the pharmaceutical side.
So the nutra vertical is a low hanging fruit. We can get that…we can launch those products pretty quick with, you know…it’s not as regulated as you probably know and are well aware. However, we only choose actives that have, you know, clinical research behind it and that are shown to be effective in the specific areas that we would be selling at. For example, sometimes it wouldn’t be effecting the endocannabinoid system. It’s just using our drug delivery platform we believe we can deliver actives and show that in some research with actives more effectively and efficiently into the body. So that crosses over into every aspect and every vertical. I’m not sure if I fully answered that question because there’s so much to talk about.
Rob: But I’ll get into that a little bit more later.
Ellis: No, that’s great. I appreciate that. And so knowing that you’ve really chosen the thin strip as a way to…you really get this efficacy and to really get this bioavailability. Are you…as you’re creating new formulations, what is it you’re actively pursuing and treating? What is it you’re trying to help patients with if you don’t mind me asking? Is there a specific area that you are targeting or is it very broad right now with what your research is and what you guys are doing?
Rob: Yeah. Good, thank you. It’s actually broad because what we do is what…we work with other companies, companies that have these molecules. It could be a cannabinoid, it could be, you know, it could be a pharmaceutical active ingredient. It could be a nutra active ingredient. What we do is we…the active treats the patient, right. We all know that. That’s not really…we’re not treating the patient. What we’re doing is we’re increasing bioavailability of the active in the body. How do we do that? There’s several ways we can utilize the thin film to deliver actives, you know, into the body more effectively.
One way is we can do it through the buccal mucosa. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the buccal mucosa. Most people are not. It’s actually between the cheek and gum. Very similar to how baseball players would chew tobacco and pack the tobacco in the cheek and gum area so it goes into the blood quickly. So if you do that and you deliver to the buccal, you can potentially bypass first-pass degradation in the gut. You know, a lot of actives you swallow and they get degraded in the gut. A lot of people, quite frankly pediatrics, geriatrics, you know, patients have trouble swallowing pills and that’s another issue. So we can increase not only bioavailability of an active by bypassing the gut. We can also increase compliance, right, for the patient. Patients who would be more willing to take the drug or nutraceutical product if it’s an easier way, it’s less cumbersome. You don’t even need to use drinking water. So it’s a very simplistic way of taking the product which allows the patient to be more compliant with the regimen so to speak. So that’s another way we actually help the patient.
So let’s…let me give you an example. If we were delivering…let’s just say we were delivering a product for epileptic patients, right, and it’s CBD. As you know, GW Pharmaceutical had gotten CBD approved for epilepsy pediatric patients called Epidiolex. One of the first…it is the first CBD product to be approved as a prescription drug in the U.S. through the FDA. Let’s just say we took that same CBD complex and delivered it a little differently and we delivered it through the buccal mucosa using thin film. It’s an easy way. The patient, you know, doesn’t have to take drinking water. You can issue…you can deliver to a patient who may be difficult to deliver to a patient a pill when they’re, you know, a pediatric patient and may be even on the verge of an epileptic fit but you can take this as an emergency medicine. You can put into their mouth. It mucoadhesive so it adheres to the mouth. It dissolves and you can, you know, effectively deliver this drug, you know, in a fast, efficient manner using thin film technology.
So potentially by bypassing the gut you’re not getting the degradation. You may have to use less dose. So that’s another key, right. Now you’re using less of the active for the same treatment and you potentially have less side effects by doing that.
Ellis: Well, pretty fascinating. Rob, we need to take a break. When we come back, we’re gonna continue talking about CURE Pharmaceutical and some of the work you’re doing with other public companies and some of the press releases I read. So please stay tuned.
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Ellis: I’m Ellis Smith and I’m here with Rob Davidson with CURE Pharmaceutical. Welcome back and thanks for staying with us. Rob, I wanna pick back up on what we were just speaking about on just availability and…or bioavailability and efficacy and I’m just really understanding what your technology does and how you’re comparing it to some of the Epidiolex and what those products are out there. So if you would kinda wrap it up for me one more time as we got to cut that short on that break there.
Rob: No, absolutely. So yeah, we were discussing just the potential of this technology, our OTF technology, CUREfilm. The potential of this delivery system, to be able to deliver the drug active not only more effectively, more efficiently but with less side effects due to the fact that you may be able to deliver less active and get the same amount into the blood. A lot of times pills…you get degradation in the GI and it basically…it’s delivering a very low percentage which is the bioavailability component of an active. You have a very low percentage of that getting into the blood or into the body. But by bypassing it using our, you know, specific encapsulation technology, our polymer systems that we utilize in our CUREfilm we’re able to actually deliver more efficiently and potentially using less active to get the same amount in the blood by bypassing the gut. Again, that widens the therapeutic index and that’s potentially a lot safer for patients because you decrease side effects by using less active.
Ellis: So I’m assuming with all this work that you guys have come out with this is why you’ve been working with Canopy Growth out of Canada. Pretty neat to see that I read you guys are doing some work with them. If you could elaborate what you can…I’m sure it’s probably top secret as that’s, you know, the big 800 pound gorilla in the marketplace. But what kinda stuff are you doing with Canopy and how did they reach out to you guys and how does that relationship look?
Rob: Yeah, no. Absolutely. I can give some color to the relationship and what we’re working on to a certain level at least.
Ellis: Sure, I understand. I get it.
Rob: Yes, yes. So they reached out to us a couple of years ago actually and we developed a relationship with Canopy. They did some research on what we were doing and really understood pretty early on that cannabinoid molecules are pretty difficult molecules to deliver to the body. And I don’t know, Ellis, how much you know about that but they’re very difficult. One of the most difficult molecules to deliver effectively to the body without having to do high doses. And you probably hear this. Look, this patient’s…or, you know, even on the rec side or in the medical side, you get people saying, “Look, I’ve tried a brownie or a piece of candy or even a tincture and some days it hits me in five minutes and other days it’s five hours later and I get hit or four hours later.”
There’s really no like continuity to, you know, the delivery systems out there and how effective they are. And quite frankly, that’s because it’s not easy to deliver a cannabinoid molecule. Not to get too scientific but cannabinoid molecules are lipophilic molecules. They’re nonpolar molecules. So it’s really tough to attract them into the body, into the blood. They really get cleaved and degraded and they get lost in the gut. And that’s really the main issue.
So they recognize that and they said, “Well, how could we really increase the efficiency in our end products and all form factors that we deliver to our patient base? We wanna be number one precise in the delivery. We want our patients to know when it’s gonna, you know, take effect. We want our patients to be able to even titrate the dose.” And what we mean by that is you could potentially have a 100 milligram thin film…not potentially. You could have a 100 milligram thin film and split it directly in half. Now you have 50 milligrams of the active, precise dosing. If you did that with a brownie you don’t know which side of that brownie is loaded and how much is in there. You know, so it’s really precise dosing. It’s the ability to bypass the gut with our delivery system, the ability to use very unique and, you know, proprietary encapsulation technologies to deliver not only CBD molecules but, you know, THC, terpenes. Stabilizing these molecules is difficult.
So look, Canopy reached out. They did their research. They know we have the ability to do that. And we’re working with them on, you know, building out their drug delivery platform and, you know, launching several of their products both in Canada, U.S. as well as, you know, Europe and Latin America. So it’s exciting for us. As you said, they’re the 800 pound gorilla. We definitely think we have one of the better ways to deliver cannabinoid molecules. We don’t just work with thin film. We work with other oral dose forms using the same platform technologies that we incorporate in thin film. We have specialized, you know, drinks or tinctures, chewables. But all encompass that same polymer system IP as well as the encapsulation technology that we have developed.
Ellis: Where can I find it? Where can I get my hands on some of this in Colorado?
Rob: Exactly. Right? As soon as launch I’ll let you know, Ellis. I’ll send you some samples. And one other…if you don’t me just saying.
Ellis: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, go ahead.
Rob: [inaudible 00:19:09] one other point. I don’t know if you know this but the other thing that, you know, Canopy Growth is excited about and a lot of companies are excited about with CURE is our ability to work on the pharmaceutical side and work with the FDA with THC right at our own facility in California because we are a…we have a DEA schedule one license for manufacturing at our facility and we’re fully vertically integrated. You won’t find a lot of companies having the schedule one license, especially in the drug delivery technology world. So we’re one of the only ones that have that and we had that for not just synthetic THC that’s very…you know, that was more common in the past for API manufacturers. But we have synthetics. We have a biosynthetic and whole plant abilities. So that’s what’s exciting. And that’s why, you know, we see an influx of companies wanting to work with us.
Ellis: Well, the proof is in the pudding and obviously you guys’ work is proving itself time and time again. So neat to see what you guys are doing and bringing into this hemp and cannabis sector specifically so… Okay, let’s switch gear a little bit. Tell me about the deal…I read a press release about…and I may butcher their name, Fytiko Farms in Oklahoma?
Rob: Yes. Yes, yeah. Fytiko Farms.
Ellis: All right. Fytiko, sorry I butchered that.
Rob: No, no. that’s okay. So I still butcher it now and then. So yeah, I could tell you a little bit about that. That’s really pertinent I think in the CBD world. Not just CBD, there’s other cannabinoid molecules that we’re looking at, CBG and, you know, some of the other lesser known and actually low percentage in the hemp plant as you know. We’re working with them on several fronts. One, we feel if we’re going to play in the CBD world or the hemp world, we want to secure the supply chain. We think that’s an unmet need in the industry. I don’t know if you know this but…you know, you’re in Colorado. You probably hear it all the time. Not all hemp oil is alike. Not all plants are alike.
Ellis: That’s right.
Rob: And you just never…and a lot of times when you, you know, are trying to, you know, source…we call it API, active product ingredient in the marketplace, we treat everything as a pharmaceutical. We wanna secure supply chain from seed all the way to the end product or form factor. And the only way for us to really do that is to, you know, partner, do co-ops with not just the, you know, the extractors but the farmers and give the farmers an upside to being a part of a bigger vehicle, a bigger supply chain. You know, let them earn, you know, revenue on the form factors or the end products. So we’re basically working on a larger or bigger picture if you will on the supply chain side and securing it all the way through from A to Z if you want.
Ellis: All right. We need to take another break. When we come back, we’re gonna continue talking about Fytiko Farms. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
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Ellis: Welcome back. Talking with Rob Davidson from CURE Pharmaceutical and Rob, you know, if you would…we were talking about the Fytiko Farms and that relationship and it sounds like it’s really bringing the farmer into this conversation from the get-go, really including them in the bigger scheme of this industry and really I see it as like a contract farmer, kind of what you see Coors does with some of their wheat and barley growers. And is that what you guys are really trying to do is support the farmers in a different capacity and make sure they’re part of the process all the way through?
Rob: Absolutely. Yeah, we definitely…that’s really the key, you know, when you’re using a natural, you know, plant product for treatment, right, for potentially medical conditions. You have to ensure the safety of the patient and ensure the safety of the supply chain and security of the supply chain. So the only way to do that is really to integrate the farmer into the process from the start. And also educating the farmer why it’s important to, you know, secure that supply chain and, you know, grow the plant a specific way, you know, and allow that to be transparent all the way through from the day you plant it to the end point, to the form factor. So yeah, that’s exactly what we’re doing. And I think the farmer…it’s better for the farmers as well to be a part of that whole process.
Ellis: I agree 100%. When can we expect to see some of your product on the market? When’s it gonna be available? You got me excited. It’s neat to see, you know, this type of sophistication coming into the space. Like you said, traditionally, we’ve had access to brownies and things that haven’t been precise dosing. And so we’d love to hear when we can get our hands on some of this stuff.
Rob: Yeah, so pretty soon. We’re actually…we expect to launch several products using hemp oil. Not only on the hemp side. As you know, we are a pharma company. The only time we do THC is when it’s federally legal in the country that we’re working in or it’s due to pharmaceutical FDA like here in the U.S., and we’re doing that as well. But on the hemp, CBD, hemp oil side you can expect to see some of the products that we’ll launch, you know, Q4 and really heavily in 2020.
Ellis: GMP. This is super important. I see you guys have this but tell our audience why is it important that you have GMP. It’s not necessarily for just the U.S. but for your international endeavors as well.
Rob: Absolutely. So and that’s going to be part of the regulations I believe coming down from the FDA in any of this, you know, from the CBD hemp side. You know, good manufacturing practices. We wanna make sure that the end product is safe, it has what it says it has in it, it’s accurate, it’s stable, there’s no cross contamination. So the only way to do that is to really ensure that the product’s being made in a GMP facility and a facility that’s been audited by the FDA or…and the state. That’s really important for the patient. And I do think a lot of people that are partaking in CBD, you know, using CBD are doing it for various health reasons whether it’s sleep, anxiety, pain. And you probably agree with me. [inaudible 00:28:15] self medicating. So that’s…it’s really important for us to be the gatekeeper as a GMP manufacturer and a pharmaceutical company to make sure that they’re getting the accurate…the products that are the best, you know, quality.
Ellis: I agree. It’s…right now there’s still a lot of…we’re the guinea pigs as the market is consuming these things and there’s a lot of self-titration that’s going on to figure out what works. There’s so much what we call snake oil being sold out there as products aren’t necessarily what they’re told they are. And so folks like yourself coming in are gonna bring more credibility. Hopefully, bring better relief to folks who are looking to achieve that with whatever ailments that they’re looking to relieve. And so this type of, you know, just regulation is really…it’s gonna rise to the top and a lot of the other folks trying to put product on the market will hopefully go away. And this is what I’m hoping to see as I have a lot of, you know, friends of family that are reaching out and asking for product and they may be in Florida or Alabama or some of these areas that I don’t know where they can get good, true, safe product from. And so I don’t recommend anybody.
Ellis: I don’t recommend. I hate that I can’t recommend that because they look to me as an expert and I can’t help them.
Rob: Yeah, no. I agree with you. It’s a problem. It’s a big problem. I think there’s a consolidation coming. I think you have…you know, the ones that aren’t GMP to your point. I think they’ll fall by the waist side. And companies that are doing it the right way really taking that initiative. And look, we need more clinical studies in the industry. We need to know does it really affect anxiety, does it really affect sleep and how does it…what’s the appropriate dosing for that? What’s the safety profiles on this? I mean, those are all, you know, key questions that need to be answered. We do know that, you know, CBD has a pretty broad safety profile and that’s a positive. The cannabis plant alone does as well. But again we still are more about let’s get more research out. Let’s make research more accessible though in the U.S. which really hasn’t happened. We’re way behind Israel and Canada in research and the ability to research due to the regulations. But I think they’re starting to look at how they can actually expand upon that and allow for more research on, you know, the THC side. Which is a positive. We do a lot of our research in Israel. You probably know that. And that’s exciting for us because we’re able to do clinical trials in Israel pretty easily.
Ellis: Well, that’s a line of least resistance. I’m glad to see you guys are actively going at these markets to help you progress your research because we’re the ones who are gonna benefit and we’re all grateful for you all doing that. So Rob, we’ve got about 30 seconds here. I wanna wrap this up. I’d love for you to have some closing comments. Anything you’d like to say, please give it your best.
Rob: I’ll give it my best. No, first of all, thank you for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. We’re excited about the future, you know, of, you know, not just cannabis but really researching the endocannabinoid system and potential effects that’s gonna have on health in the future. We think that’s again the new frontier of medicine. We’re excited to be at the forefront of that and, you know, visit curepharmaceutical.com and keep tabs on us, what we’re doing. We think we’re going to create a lot of noise in the very near future.
Ellis: Rob, thanks for joining us. Rob Davidson, CURE Pharmaceutical. I’m Ellis Smith. Thank you for joining us for this edition of “Cutting Edge of Cannabis”. You can download past episodes of our program by going to cannabisradio.com or subscribing to the show on iTunes, Stitcher and very soon on iHeart Radio. Have a great day. See you next time.
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