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NZ: First key ‘Cannabis for pets’ study conducted

A New Zealand company that’s set to be among the first in the world to register cannabis medicines for pets has successfully completed its first study involving dogs.

Hale Animal Health’s Managing Director, Leila de Koster, says while the research is commercially sensitive, and the findings will be closely guarded, it nonetheless marks a major early milestone.

Titled ‘Pilot pharmacokinetic study of CBD treatment in healthy dogs’, the study saw a group of healthy dogs treated orally with what was deemed an investigational veterinary product. Blood samples were then taken periodically, which among other things detected CBD concentration levels and the rate it cleared the animals’ bodies.

“The study confirmed our hypothesis around how best to dose, supporting our desired dosing regime. It confirmed the bioavailability, or broadly speaking the absorption, of our investigational product and so overall we’re delighted,” says Ms de Koster.

Extensive R&D work is now underway in the quest for Hale to achieve approval in New Zealand and Australia for CBD veterinary-prescribed medicines, with the submission of the company’s first data package for regulators to assess planned for the first half of 2023.

“Hale is aiming to be one of the first in the world to deliver clinically trialed and registered cannabidiol-based products for pets. It’s a long road but this pharmacokinetic study represents a key first step,” says Ms de Koster.

Part-owned by medicinal cannabis company Helius Therapeutics, Hale Animal Health is based at Helius’ massive 8,800sqm state-of-the-art indoor facility in East Auckland.

In July, Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to be awarded a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines. The Medicinal Cannabis Agency has since announced the verification and availability of two new local medicinal cannabis products.

Just as the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme has enabled the local development and manufacturing of cannabis therapeutics for humans, creating CBD products for pets is now also achievable in New Zealand. While it’s novel here, Ms de Koster says the sector is growing rapidly internationally.

Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics, Carmen Doran, says it’s exciting to be working alongside Hale on the journey to obtain official registration of CBD prescription products for pets that vets can then prescribe with confidence.

“CBD will be a game-changer for many Kiwi pet owners and their suffering pets. Just as Helius is rolling out an R&D pipeline of activity and novel therapeutics, so too is Hale. The fact that many at Helius have considerable experience in animal health is also proving a huge advantage,” says Ms Doran.

Obtaining registration for approved medicinal cannabis products for pets requires considerable data and clinical trials. Hale’s work is set to fill an international void of clinical information, on the likes of the efficacy of CBD products for pets.

“CBD is highly effective for treating the likes of pain and inflammation in humans, and we believe it’s no different for animals. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system with receptors that work with cannabinoids, the active substance in medicinal cannabis,” says Ms Doran.

It’s believed CBD can treat pet anxiety, stress, nausea, skin conditions, arthritis, and seizures, and Hale will work hard to prove this with trials and reliable clinical data.

Ms de Koster says Kiwis are keen to access cannabidiol-based products to naturally alleviate their pets’ pain and suffering.

“Local pet owners are hugely supportive of our work to develop and deliver CBD products to help their much-loved furry friends. Fortunately, we’ve already got natural supplements on the shelf that they can get in behind and back, which helps to fund Hale’s critical cannabis R&D work,” she says.

Since launching early this year, Hale’s Vitality Plus natural liquid supplement range has been selling well in vet clinics and pet specialty shops, including PETstock stores, across New Zealand.

Now, Hale has rolled out its Best Life supplements for senior dogs and adult and senior cats, with its next product release, in 2022, aimed at puppies, kittens, and active dogs.

“Tailored to the life stage of the pet, these liquid supplements are the first of their kind in New Zealand and they’re packed with essential omegas, antioxidants, prebiotics and superfoods. As we say: ‘Squeeze some health into every feed… because prevention is the best medicine for them too’. Better still, pets love the taste,” she says.

The Hale brand continues to grow. The company is a proud sponsor of Barkley Manor – a popular new local television show which showcases a doggie day-care centre in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

“Kiwi pet owners have got in behind Hale which is really energising us to return the favour. We can’t wait to help the lives of much-loved companion animals, both here and eventually overseas, by delivering world-leading approved medicinal cannabis products for pets,” says Leila de Koster.

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