Strengthened by a unique pilot project for medical cannabis in Denmark, and with the help of artificial intelligence and cultivation technology developed by NASA, DanCann Pharma was listed on Spotlight Denmark in November 2020. The listing was preceded by an IPO whose public share was subscribed to a total of 433 per cent, and which provided the company about 30 MDKK. BioStock reached out to CEO Jeppe Krog Rasmussen, who talks about the company’s activities since the listing and the plans for the company moving forward; it is clear that he expects a news-intensive first half of the year.
Three years have passed since the Danish government, with a broad political majority, decided that medical cannabis would be legalised. Consequently, a medical cannabinoid pilot program was initiated in order to enable physicians to prescribe cannabis for medical use if the patient had not benefited from the traditional drugs. The drugs covered by this pilot program can be administered, for example, in the form of dried cannabis flowers, cannabis oil, capsules or tablets.
The cannabis plant contains over 100 active substances called cannabinoids, active substances that affect receptors in the brain and body when consumed. The two most well-known are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), the latter which does not generate the same so-called high or feeling of euphoria associated with cannabis.
So, while both substances can have a positive effect on things like pain, mood, sleep and memory, and can thus offer new treatment options in cases where conventional drugs have not had the intended effect – e.g., in pain management – CBD is of higher interest to researchers thanks to its lack of psychoactive effects.
»With the agreement with Tetra Bio-Pharma, DanCann Pharma enters into a whole new league with approved cannabinoid-based drugs as one of the only ones in Europe and, in fact, globally as well« – Jeppe Krog Rasmussen grundare & vd, DanCann Pharma
The historic decision by the Danish politicians also paved the way for companies that saw great business opportunities in the area. One of these was DanCann Pharma A/S, whose goal is to grow, manufacture, distribute and export quality-assured cannabinoid substances for medical use in the form of both prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs. These substances are intended to be used both in the company’s own products, and to meet the needs of both large and small drug development companies.
DanCann’s cultivating technology is now used in its first hygienic and climate-controlled facility, BIOTECH PHARM1with the short- and medium-term goal of developing treatments for multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, spinal cord injury, and nausea (vomiting) as a result of chemotherapy treatment of various cancers. Patients undergoing treatment with chronic pain are considered as the main target group.
The CEO comments
BioStock reached out to Jeppe Krog Rasmussen, CEO of DanCann Pharma, to hear his thoughts on the first four months as a listed company and what is in the pipeline for H1 2021.
Jeppe, to begin with, what are the most crucial differences between DanCann’s operations and the majority of other companies in the medical cannabis sphere?
– Currently, as a company, we manufacture and sell raw materials (rare pharma-grade (GMP) phytocannabinoids (APIs)) and thereby act as contractors / licensees for other biotech companies (based on cannabinoids) and for future own supply. In parallel, we focus on distributing approved and unapproved drugs based on cannabis and cannabinoids – and have an ambition to become the leading company in Northern Europe (with ambitions for further exposure) in that regard.
– Where large parts of the industry only focus on massive cultivation sites without taking into account market needs etc., we at DanCann Pharma focus on formulation and innovative delivery systems, and we believe that this is the way to success, leading to approved drugs in the future, all based on an IP-based strategy. It is to our strong belief that approved medicine (pharmaceuticals) based on cannabinoids is going to outperform medical cannabis in the future.
– Without limiting ourselves, as we are going to run several legs of our business (both approved drugs with cannabinoids and non-approved drugs (medical cannabis)), but it is the clinical path that the company will focus on developing further, without a doubt. As a supplement to this, we currently only have two approved drugs in Denmark and in Europe, both from GW Pharmaceuticals, called Sativex and Epidyolex, respectively.
DannCann uses an interplay between artificial intelligence and low pressure aeroponics, a cultivation technology that has been developed by NASA, in order to be able to grow crops in space. What are the benefits of connecting these technologies in your field of interest?
– First and foremost – at DanCann Pharma, we are always looking at new technology that offers the highest patient safety and control over process parameters. It has become clear that the industry is currently struggling to be compliant and meet the product requirements due to questionable production practices.
– DanCann Pharma surveyed the complete market for growing precise, pharma-grade premium cannabis products, and determined that Aeroponic cultivation will deliver superior raw materials well beyond the alternatives – like the industry standard single-tier bench type cultivation.
– We wanted to build a fully cleanroom-like environment that is similar to traditional pharmaceutical production, with a cultivation system that was easy to use, provided a great degree of control over and visibility into the growth environment and had no soil or growing medium, which significantly reduces the risk of contaminants).
– Our system delivers sensor-driven automation to execute the inherent benefits of aeroponics. Central AI software monitors can control crucial environmental conditions 24/7 and, if needed, automatically adjusts key variables such as nutrients, pH, temperature, or lighting to maintain optimal conditions. Automation ensures consistent, year-round harvests with no interference from the external environment.
– Ultimately, by combining novel technologies like AI and aeroponics, DanCann Pharma has a fully automated cleanroom-like environment with aeroponic practices that ensures uniform quality and consistency.
During the period since your successful capital raise and listing, you have, among other things, established an exclusive licensing agreement with Cannassure Therapeutics regarding topical medical cannabis products based on Lipidor’s AKVANO® technology. Can you briefly discuss the importance of this deals?
– We are incredibly proud of the agreement with Cannassure, as we share a lot of values about the future of treatment with cannabinoids and the strategy looking forward. This agreement underlines once again our IP-based approach to the market with exclusive rights and innovative and exciting products for the market and, thereby, the achievement of the unique position for us as a company.
»By 2028, the European cannabis market will be worth €115.7 billion, according to market intelligence and strategic consultancy firm, Prohibition Partners«
In February you signed a Letter of Intent with Canadian Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc. What are your hopes that this collaboration will lead to in the long term?
– With the agreement with Tetra Bio-Pharma, DanCann Pharma enters into a whole new league with approved cannabinoid-based drugs as one of the only ones in Europe and, in fact, globally as well. This makes our case much more transparent and predictable where we do not depend on near as many political and regulatory decisions as we would by, e.g., the Pilot Programme. It is a total game changer for us as a company.
Cannabis has been classified as one the most dangerous drugs in the world for the past 60 years, making it hard for companies and researchers to develop new treatments for patients. But in December 2020, the UN, following a recommendation from the WHO, voted to declassify cannabis as a dangerous drug. What implications will this have for the industry?
– First of all, this is a huge victory for patients all over the world and another step in the right direction in terms of treatment with cannabis and cannabinoids. With the reclassification of cannabis, we expect to see an accelerating of the legalisation wave, thereby promoting growth within our business area. This will make our work across nations far less arduous – and the whole business development hereof. We hope that this opens new doors for patients and their access to medical cannabis and cannabinoid treatment on a global scale.
What does DanCann Pharma’s market potential look like in Denmark and within the EU?
– The market potential for cannabis and cannabinoids is enormous – I do not want to put figures on this yet myself, as this is in rapid development and is almost being adjusted and upgraded day by day in step with the development and legalisation – but we can, for example, relate to recognised sources within the industry. For example, by 2028, the European cannabis market will be worth €115.7 billion, according to market intelligence and strategic consultancy firm, Prohibition Partners.
Looking ahead, what do you hope to be able to communicate to the market by the summer?
– The summer of 2021 will, to a large extent, be severely affected by the roll-out of our new organisation – including the establishment of new subsidiaries – in the respective markets that we have previously communicated (including DK, DE, SE, NO, FI, etc.) – as well as applications and the launch of the various drugs in these markets. By this time, we should also have penetrated our first market with products, namely the Danish one. Something I personally look forward to immensely, as this is what it is all about.
Recently, you appointed Jens Markussen as Head of Production and Malene Gottfredsen as Product Manager. What do they bring to the company in terms of professional knowledge in the industry?
– Jens and Malene are incredibly strong additions to our team, each of which adds core competencies in their respective fields.
-Jens has already a proven track record within the medical cannabis industry as he is former Head of Production at Spectrum Therapeutics Denmark A/S, part of the Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC) group. Jens’ know-how and experience with Medical cannabis under Danish and European regulations are exceptional and one-of-a-kind in this novel industry – these will aid DanCann Pharma’s production activities and ease application and approval processes with the Danish Medical Agency.
– Malene is a strong force within safety and clinical trials, with more than 10 years’ experience from various settings. Malene has previously held positions at AstraZeneca PLC, Novo Nordisk A/S and Lundbeck A/S – where she has worked in a broad field from Medical Information (to HCP and patients) Safety Surveillance (Senior Specialist and Senior Advisor) and was responsible for, among other things, a phase I project at Lundbeck and worked with the Victoza phase III-IV projects at Novo Nordisk.
– As we work with an increasing number of research-driven and cannabinoid-derived products, Malene’s background comes well into play, and she will become an invaluable asset in our further work with research organisations, clients and patients. Malene may also be a strong future addition in terms of activities if the company chooses to go its own way in terms of clinical programs for the development of new drugs based on cannabinoids.
In conclusion, where do you envision DanCann will be in two years?
– If we look two years ahead from now, we see an established DanCann Pharma, with a strong position, both in terms of supply of raw materials (rare pharma-grade (GMP) phytocannabinoids (APIs)) and the distribution of approved and unapproved drugs with cannabinoids via a broad and deep portfolio of strong exclusive partnerships from companies from all around the world.
– In addition, to my best belief, we have initiated far more development programmes of new drugs based on cannabinoids – and potentially a pipeline – at this stage.
– Further, we see DanCann Pharma located in all European countries that we have already communicated and a few more, including a successful rollout of our organisation and regulatory work in the form of market launch of a broad and deep portfolio of new drugs based on cannabinoids from the above-mentioned partnerships. But most importantly, as always, we have made a huge difference to the many who need us, and pushed for further legalisation of cannabinoid-based drugs and pharmaceuticals.
DanCann tecknar distributionsavtal med Tetra Bio-Pharma (March 2, 2021)
BioStock Studio: DanCann Pharma om det nya avtalet (March 5, 2021)
The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.