William Rowe, CEO of Nutrasource (which is billing itself now as Nutrasource Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Services), said he believes the CBD space is analogous in some ways to how omega-3s were developed as dietary ingredients.
“When you look at the story line for omega-3s, to me the cannabis space is sort of where the omega-3s space was 20 to 30 years ago,” Rowe told NutraIngredients-USA.
“People understood these molecules were doing some important things. There was a lot of anecdotal information, but very little in the way of scientific and medical data. The omega-3s drug development really brought that along,” he said.
Florida site ideal for cannabis research
The partnership in Florida, which Nutrasource is branding as the International Institute of Cannabis Research (IICR), will be dedicated to global cannabis research. The Lake Mary, FL location will be spearheaded by its director and principal investigator, Dr. Lane Phillips, a board certified family practice doctor and a board member of the U.S. Cannabis Coalition.
The IICR will specialize in the study of medical applications of cannabis, its cannabinoids, and related products for the purposes of claim validation and patient benefit.
Rowe said Dr. Phillips’ clinic will be added to Nutrasource’s growing list of research sites. He said unlike some other CROs (contract research organizations), Nutrasource does not try to steer studies to its own site. Rather, the goal is to find the best fit for a study within the company’s network.
“We now have about 300 sites we use to support our clients’ needs,” Rowe said. “We look at things like patient population, indication, the type of formula being studied, the incidence of that indication in a particular population to find the best site for a study.”
“Dr. Phillips’ clinic was ideal for this type of research. He sees 8,000 to 10,000 patients regularly, and has a contact list of more than 40,000 patients,” he said.
Near term medical focus
Rowe said he believes the best near-term play for cannabinoids will be in the medical field. But he said the kind of information that arises out of these studies will provide baseline data that will be useful for any of these products, regardless of the kind of claim being made.
“Companies are just starting to formulate these higher concentration products,” Rowe said. “They are just starting to pivot out of what we in Canada call the recreation and leisure space.”
“A lot of potential clients need to do things like run basic pharmacokinetic studies. They don’t yet have solid data on things like dose linearity and dose response,” he said.
Potential structure function claims support
The medical studies could also bring clarity to the question of what kind of structure function claims could be made on a potential dietary supplement product. A CBD-based drug was approved by FDA this week to treat two forms of childhood seizure disorders.
And many consumers of CBD products say they are using the products to treat their chronic pain. Neither of those is something a dietary supplement could legitimately claim to do. But as the mechanisms of action become clearer, data supporting some supplement-appropriate claims might arise, Rowe said.
“From a structure function perspective it might be a little early to hone in on one claim or another. It is such a virgin field and in areas like pharmacokinetics and absorption there is so much more that needs to be done,” he said.