Hugues Péribère, Overseed

Finding the right cannabis varieties for the French medical market

“The target was to aggregate all the available expertise to do the research, which will ultimately result in a finished product for the French medicinal market,” says Hugues Péribère, Founder and CEO of Overseed. The company was founded in 2021 and is the first in France to be allowed to cultivate medical cannabis for R&D purposes. “One of the important aspects we focus on is the link between genetics and cultivation. The ultimate goal is to select varieties that meet the requirements to begin the ‘pharmaceutic run’ phase, giving French patients access to high-quality medical cannabis.”

Selecting varieties
Not long after Overseed obtained the authorization of ANSM (French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products), they raised €2.5 million and launched their R&D program. Now, the company is finishing the agronomic and chemical phenotyping, Hugues says. “This will allow us to select the precise genetics that we will keep to produce the medicines. When it comes to genetics, there are a lot of important characteristics that we focus on. For example, we are aiming for varieties that are rich in CBD and THC, with specific terpene profiles. Agronomically, we select the characteristics that will help us manage production in the best way. The height of the plants, the layout of the flowers, and the resistance to pests, are some important criteria that we are evaluating. As a result, we hope to find the right plants to propagate.” By the end of the year, the scientific teams of Overseed plan to select five varieties of plants that meet the requirements to begin the ‘pharmaceutic run’ phase.

For the production, the research team is working in 1,000 square meters of R&D, placed inside a 5000 square meter greenhouse. “It is a very technologically advanced greenhouse, which helps us to achieve the standards of producing pharmaceutical grade cannabis,” Hugues says. The company is currently in the process of receiving their GACP and EU GMP certifications. Overseed will develop its extracts with Stanipharm CDMO, a company that specializes in the production of active ingredients, especially by CO2 extraction. “Partnerships are very important in our journey, as they help us to achieve the high-quality products we are aiming for and to grow quickly and efficiently as a company.”

The French market
Just last week, it was announced that the French medical cannabis pilot project will probably be extended by another year. This means that the official launch of the legal market will be postponed by another year in order to provide more time to organize everything. “The first priority of everyone is to give patients access to medical cannabis as quickly as possible. Therefore, we are sad to see that this access will be postponed. The decision does not have much immediate impact on our operational side of the business at Overseed, as we will need until at least the end of 2023 to reach the final products we are aiming for,” Hugues says.

Hugues explains that it is difficult to predict the potential of the French market when there are still so many aspects left unknown. “Who will be able to prescribe the medication? How will we educate the doctors? There is much left to determine that is very important regarding the number of patients having access to the product and the overall success of the medical program.”

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