Why This Mexican Pharmaceutical Started Researching Cannabis
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By Hernán Panessi
Landsteiner is a 100% Mexican company focused on traditional pharmaceuticals and whose performance is mainly dedicated to generic drugs. However, in tune with plant medicine and with the herbal tradition of Mexican medicine, he began to investigate cannabis-based medicines.
"Plant medicine is pre-Hispanic," warns Alejandro Lara Terrazas, surgeon, anesthesiologist, specialist in pain and palliative care for cancer patients and responsible for the medical direction, access and development of Landsteiner.
From Landsteiner they noticed the demand of the society to return to the herbal and cannabis bases. "As a good doctor, for 10 or 20 years, I see that many patients come to the consultations with their bottles with infusions," he says.
That forced the doctors to pay attention to them, to continue studying the subject.
However, as there was no regulation, there was great disorder.
In the mouth of Lara Terrazas: “ When the law comes out, it sets the rules. But the field is marked by the regulations. And it is very recent. It happened last month. It is very novel and it turned out as we thought. The regulation allows medicinal use focused on research ”.
But since medicine is not an exact science, they are conducting controlled clinical studies to measure the efficacy, safety, and quality of cannabis-based medicinal products .
“As an industry, we were ahead of time to develop an herbal line. At Landsteiner we are experts in allopathic matters, but today we are dabbling in herbalism ”, he says.
Meanwhile, they are developing clinical studies that measure doses and toxicities, which will scale into large population studies to measure the quality of inputs, the safety of products, and their efficacy.
From Landsteiner they developed a palliative protocol for cancer patients.
“It serves to avoid suffering, control anxiety, depression and ten other symptoms. But we don't like to talk about 'dignifying'. We have to ensure the quality of life. Where am I going with this? That cannabis products don't cure, but they control. The holistic thing is to control the symptoms ”.
Related content: After the Regulation of Medicinal Cannabis, Mexico will open EONIA, the First Cannabinoid Clinic in the Country
According to Dr. Lara Terrazas, it is the first time that terminally ill patients have gained it instead of losing weight. Now why? "Because I give them a cannabis-based product."
“These products enhance chemo, lower doses, prevent nausea and vomiting. They give a global benefit ”.
And how will these products be administered?
As a pharmaceutical industry we are not going to prescribe you to smoke. The drugs will have to be pharmaceutical developments: tablets, creams, drops, nasal sprays, discs. That is where pharmaceutical medicine adds value. We know the profiles of how it is absorbed, metabolized and eliminated. The ultimate goal is for the patient to be in the best living conditions for as long as God allows. My role is that the patient passes it in the best conditions. As a pharmacist, we are not fought over drugs, but we know the added value of a cannabis line that enhances and has a real benefit for the population.
For example, Dr. Lara Terrazas' approach to cannabis research occurred fortuitously: through pets .
“More and more pets are living in apartments and they get very nervous: we notice that if a cannabis substance is added to the food, they calm down. This generates a social harmony, because it controls the humor and the mood of the animals and their owners ”.
At the time, cannabis science determines that, depending on the origin and traceability, drugs can be developed that enhance the analgesic effects . “With cannabis-based medicine, the progression of some diseases can be stopped. We can't heal, but we can stop, ”he says.
In these investigations, the Landsteiner laboratory maintains a close link with the academy . “Four of our cannabis protocols are being developed in conjunction with the university, which adds a lot of value to it. In the investigation you cannot be judge and party ”, he slides.
Landsteiner maintains a cooperation agreement with the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico.
As the regulation is still very new [January 2021], they are still looking for a balance point.
“[The regulation] allows for research and development of medical products. We need to develop practice and experience. Pharmaceuticals, after aeronautics, is one of the most regulated industries. It requires a lot of paperwork because we are talking about lives , "Lara Terrazas dixit.
They are still looking to get around that regulation and ensure what the law requires, but - at the same time - make things happen.
“Excessive control limits. Lack of control creates chaos. We must find a balance. We are proposing to refine the regulations. That they allow us open access, without losing control ”, he identifies.
And how does Landsteiner position itself in the face of this new challenge?
We are in the midst of a dizzying transformation . We want to be one of the first players to place products on a continental level. It is a game that plays the world. It has been shown by Canada, Holland, Australia, that I see them as the future. Something that needs to be done. I believe in the added value of an effective product that, for example, reduces refractory epilepsy. It is a very noble end, very last. We have urgency. We want to be the first.
How is Mexico with respect to the world?
We have an advantage: for better or for worse, we have a border with the United States. We handle FDA and European Union standards. That forces us to have high standards for the continent. We start from the NAFTA and T-Mec agreements. Having a neighbor who sets the guidelines, we have to comply with them. And the government has an interest in making things happen. Today, there is rapprochement with large countries. We have gone global. If we maintain the standards of our neighbor, we will not have problems.
With regard to the outlook on the future, join Arturo Morales, vice president of corporate affairs, and Nohemí Juárez, manager of regulatory affairs.
Morales maintains that “progress in Mexico has been timid. The position is conservative and the government had to withstand the pressure. The first step was taken for pharmaceutical companies, which is to approve it for medicinal use. The law has not yet been approved, what exists is a regulation. So, allowing legal planting would provide quality control, would not criminalize the peasants, and would help to verify agricultural inputs such as fertilizers. We have to continue with developments in the pharma part ”.
By the way, Juárez closes: “This is a very important step for herbalism. Cannabis is a plant that is given a lot of focus for its medical benefits. It opens up an opportunity to take other plants seriously. With regulatory issues, it is also a very great opportunity. This is an important moment to emphasize a return to knowledge about plants ”.