VANCOUVER, BC. May 15, 2017 – Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX-V: AQS, OTCQB: AQSZF) (“Aequus” or the “Company”), a specialty pharmaceutical company with a focus on developing, advancing and promoting differentiated products, today announced results from a medical cannabis needs assessment survey it deployed involving 410 physicians in Canada and the United States. Aequus sought to understand the current attributes and therapeutic use of cannabis in the medical community including the delivery of cannabis, the limitations of use, the perceived benefits and risks in specific indications, and the gaps in knowledge in the field from a prescriber’s perspective.
“The results from this survey are timely, as Canada and other territories continue to evolve their regulations to improve and increase access to cannabis. To date, medical practitioners have been largely left out of the legislative process, and as a result, the challenges physicians are facing in recommending medical cannabis seem to be wide spread,” said Doug Janzen, Chairman and CEO of Aequus.
“This survey highlights physicians’ concerns around the currently available forms of cannabis, which were recognized to be unreliably administered and thus difficult to be measured for accurate dose-response in a clinical setting,” said Anne Stevens, COO and Director of Aequus. “Drug delivery is an area where Aequus has demonstrable expertise, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with the medical community in advancing pharmaceutical grade, quality medical cannabis products.”
Findings from this survey highlight the medical need for improved clinical trial data supporting safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, reliability of dose delivery systems, high quality data collection tracking real world clinical outcomes, physician education, and quality controlled ingredients. Aequus intends to leverage its expertise in developing and commercializing regulated prescription therapeutics and will work with third party partners, and the physician community, to develop pharmaceutical grade products for patients seeking the use of medical cannabis and to re-engage the physician in the treatment journey.
Key Survey Highlights:
The survey consisted of 202 physicians in Canada and 208 physicians in the USA – specifically in the state of California. The survey targeted primary care practitioners (36%), medical oncologists (24%), neurologists (20%), and psychiatrists (20%).
The majority of physicians (>90%) reported having been approached by a patient to discuss the use of medical cannabis in both Canada and the USA. Of the physicians surveyed, 46% reported providing patients with a medical note, while the other 54% were not comfortable for a variety of reasons. Physicians reported that 20% of cannabis medical documents provided are based on their own recommendation, typically treating chronic pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis. Meanwhile, patients that requested medical cannabis for treatment typically presented with chronic pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. The majority of Canadian physicians (51%) indicated that they recommend medical cannabis as a last resort treatment option as opposed to first line, second line, and adjunctive treatment.
The survey identified the patient therapeutic journey to be unique in nature, with professional healthcare support lacking when it comes to product selection, dose, and administration. The survey found that only 19% of physicians in Canada recommend a specific dosing regimen for patients, 38% recommend a specific form of medical cannabis, and 43% refer patients to a certain licensed producer. This data suggests that the patient is largely responsible for determining their own course of therapy with limited advice from physicians, and no support available from pharmacists.
Barriers to Use
Physicians emphasized concern over cannabis products; consistently rating clinical data, reliability of quantity delivered, and dose ingredient quality as areas that require the most improvement. In conjunction, 43% of prescribing physicians are concerned over the current delivery methods used to administer medical cannabis, commonly citing smoking, potency, and contamination as areas of concern. When asked to select preferred potential routes of delivery for cannabis, oral tablets, sublingual tablets and nasal spray were commonly chosen for acute conditions such as pain and movement disorders. For chronic disorders, transdermal patch delivery (both reservoir and matrix) were preferred along with oral tablets.
Aequus expects to publish the full results from this survey in the coming weeks.
ABOUT AEQUUS PHARMACEUTICALS
Aequus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX-V: AQS, OTCQB: AQSZF) is a growing specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing high quality, differentiated products. Aequus’ development stage pipeline includes several products in neurology and psychiatry with a goal of addressing the need for improved medication adherence through enhanced delivery systems. Aequus intends to commercialize its internal programs in Canada alongside its current portfolio of marketed established medicines and will look to form strategic partnerships that would maximize the reach of its product candidates worldwide. Aequus plans to build on its Canadian commercial platform through the launch of additional products that are either created internally or brought in through an acquisition or license; remaining focused on highly specialized therapeutic areas. For further information, please visit www.aequuspharma.ca.
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENT DISCLAIMER
This release may contain forward-looking statements or forward-looking information under applicable Canadian securities legislation that may not be based on historical fact, including, without limitation, statements containing the words “believe”, “may”, “plan”, “will”, “estimate”, “continue”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “expect”, “potential” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based on estimates and assumptions made by us in light of our experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as the factors we believe are appropriate. Forward-looking statements in this release include but are not limited to statements relating to: the Company’s intention to form strategic partnerships to develop medical cannabis products. Such statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties and are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by Aequus, are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties and contingencies. Many factors could cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. In making the forward-looking statements included in this release, the Company has made various material assumptions, including, but not limited to: the Company’s ability to develop new products, the assumption that the Company’s current good relationships with its manufacturer and other third parties will be maintained, the availability of financing on reasonable terms, the Company’s ability to attract and retain skilled staff, market competition, the products and technology offered by the Company’s competitors and the Company’s ability to protect patents and proprietary rights. In evaluating forward-looking statements, current and prospective shareholders should specifically consider various factors set out under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Information Form dated April 29, 2016, a copy of which is available on Aequus’ profile on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com, and as otherwise disclosed from time to time on Aequus’ SEDAR profile. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties, or a risk that is not currently known to us materialize, or should assumptions underlying those forward-looking statements prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this release and we do not intend, and do not assume any obligation, to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable securities laws. Investors are cautioned that forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are inherently uncertain. Accordingly, investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements.