Medicinal cannabis company Althea Group (ASX: AGH) has found UK market traction after its British subsidiary, Althea MMJ UK, received the first patient prescription for its proprietary medicinal cannabis product.
The ASX-listed company will now be tasked with supplying its first UK-based patients, a feat that is considered both commercially positive and a testament to the company's many months of work in entering one of the most highly regulated markets in the world.
Althea said it expects to receive more patient prescriptions "in the coming days" and plans to export its range of products from Australia, in order to satisfy growing demand.
"We are familiar with the significance of achieving a first prescription from our experience in Australia, where Althea recently surpassed the 1,000-patient milestone. The preparation and work which has resulted in our first prescription cannot be underestimated," said Josh Fegan, chief executive officer of Althea.
"From small things, big things grow," he added.
In contrast to Althea's potential growth rate, the broader medicinal cannabis market is growing commercially across the world.
Medicinal cannabis is a legal treatment option in a number of countries, including Australia, Canada, the UK and some states in the US, which allow patients to have access to medicinal cannabis in special circumstances, usually in cases where conventional treatments have failed.
Clinical research remains ongoing into the benefits of medicinal cannabis, although research carried out so far has shown that cannabis has the means to treat a whole host of symptoms and help patients suffering from many different conditions, including chronic pain, sleep, mood disorders, mental health, nausea, vomiting, epilepsy, pain and spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
This morning's news comes hot on the heels of Althea's announcement earlier this year that it had entered the UK market – a move designed to take advantage of the continued easing of medicinal cannabis legislation in a series of countries including Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK.
As a country and one of the world's largest cannabis markets, the UK is expected to create Althea's second significant distribution channel for its current and future Australian manufactured, medicinal cannabis products.
Manufacturing medicinal cannabis
In parallel to progress in the UK, Althea is also making advances closer to home – Australia. The medicinal cannabis developer was recently granted a planning permit for its cultivation and manufacturing facility in Victoria by the Office of Drug Control (ODC).
According to Althea, the permit is "the culmination of a process which involved both the Victorian State Government and Frankston City Council and represents significant progress for the project."
"The Althea production team is excited following the granting of the planning permit for the Skye manufacturing and cultivation facility,"
– Daniel Mansfield, Althea's director of cultivation.
Mr Mansfield added that "it has been an absolute pleasure working closely with Aphria on the design of this world-class facility, along with many Australian based consultants. We will continue to work toward our goal of meeting a 2020 production target, as we progress to the next goal of obtaining our building permit."
The granting of the planning permit and receipt of its first prescription in the UK follows Althea's recent 1,000 patient milestone in Australia announcement, adding to the company's growth momentum.
As things stand, Althea is a fully licensed producer, supplier and exporter of pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis in Australia. In parallel, Althea also offers a range of education, access and management services to support eligible patients and healthcare professionals in navigating medicinal cannabis treatment pathways.
Given its global market aspirations, Althea plans to expand its existing operational areas (Australia and the UK) by obtaining licenses in other emerging growth areas such as Asia and Europe.
News of Althea's UK prescription and ODC approval in Australia helped its shares to appreciate by almost 5% up to $0.89 per share.
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