Business

DBJ backs Medicanja for clinical trials of cancer drug

Friday, December 07, 2018

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The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and Medicanja Limited signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Monday, December 3, that will see the DBJ provide Medicanja with $7 million in funding for clinical trials of a new cannabis-based drug, referred to as 'Drug X Version 2'. The drug is expected to advance palliative care of cancer patients.

The memorandum of agreement will likely have significant implications for cannabis research for cancer.

“The DBJ is happy to be the first to invest in what we know will not only amount to wealth creation in Jamaica, but position Jamaica as a global leader in innovation and research,” said Managing Director Milverton Reynolds. The DBJ is the first local financial institution to invest in the medical cannabis industry.

Medicanja CEO Dr Henry Lowe said the DBJ grant may be the first step in establishing Jamaica as a leader in clinical trials that have, until now, been accessible only to larger companies elsewhere. He hailed Reynolds as “a believer” and said better funding for science can contribute substantially to Jamaica's growth.

Lowe, who has been researching the medicinal properties of cannabis for decades, also lamented the missed opportunities for development from the lack of funding in the science and medical industry.

Reynolds explained that as the world changes, the DBJ has had to shift its focus from traditional industries to include newer ones such as the creative industries, energy, information and communication, and the medical industry. As a result, he explained, the criteria for eligibility for DBJ assistance has changed

“You'd be hard-pressed to find a business small or large, micro or medium-sized that didn't qualify for some kind of DBJ assistance,” he said after the signing the MOA. “It was the right thing to do. It's a new sector, and can create jobs across other sectors. It has created jobs among farmers, manufacturers, and marketers.”

He also noted that the only other drug equivalent to 'Drug X Version 2' that is currently on the market has generated more than US$2.8 billion in revenue.

Reynolds further explained that it was the expanded criteria for DBJ assistance and Lowe's reputation as an industry titan that convinced DBJ to support Medicanja.

Lowe's company has already created a range of cannabis products including pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals. He is also the author and co-author of several books on the topic of the medical use of cannabis.

Although Reynolds could not say at this time whether the DBJ will support the wider ganja industry, he pointed to the capacity of cannabis and its byproducts to significantly impact the wealth and development of Jamaica. He promised that the DBJ would be open to meeting cannabis entrepreneurs to discuss funding research and assisting in the area of policy advocacy so that when the authorities give the green light the bank will be the institution of choice for all financial and technical assistance and business solutions.

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