ASX-listed medicinal cannabis company Vitura Health (ASX: VIT) has joined forces with Canada-based PharmAla Biotech (CSE: MDMA) to form a 50:50 joint venture specialising in the supply of psychedelics for research and therapeutic use in Australia.
Called Cortexa, the joint venture will capitalise on the distribution and industry relationships of Vitura Health - which operates cannabis companies Burleigh Heads Cannabis and CDA Cannabis - and the manufacturing technologies of its Canadian partner.
With a current market capitalisation above $200 million, Vitura itself was formerly known as Cronos Australia - affiliated with Toronto-based Cronos Group - but rebranded earlier this year to make the name more relevant following its merger with Queensland-based CDA Health.
News of the latest partnership has sent VIT’s shares up by more than 8 per cent at the time of writing, with shareholders keen on the Melbourne-headquartered company’s move into the emerging psychedelic therapeutics space.
The partnership gives Vitura a headstart into this arena - one currently being pursued by listed alternative medicines companies such as Emyria (ASX: EMD) and Incannex Healthcare (ASX: IHL) - given PharmAla is already focused on the research, development and manufacture of substituted methylenedioxy- phenethylamines (MDXX), including MDMA.
Vitura Health says PharmAla is ‘expected to become the first company in the world to be able to supply both MDMA and psilocybin (commonly known as magic mushrooms) that meet an acceptable standard of good manufacturing practice (GMP) and are ready for prescription use in Australia’.
Vitura and its competitors in the psychedelics space are pursuing the emerging alternative therapy pathway after the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) announced earlier this year that approved psychiatrists would be allowed to prescribe both MDMA and psilocybin for those suffering from PTSD and treatment-resistant depression respectively.
According to Vitura, PharmAla’s MDMA and psilocybin products are already being supplied to Australian clinical trials of both drugs. The Australian company is set to benefit from this activity as the joint venture agreement means any sale orders for the products to be supplied into Australia have been transferred to Cortexa, ensuring that the partnership will generate revenues from the outset.
The joint venture has equal board representation, and Cotexa will be able to supply products for both clinical use to be prescribed to authorised prescribers and to clinical trials undertaken by academic and commercial researchers.
Further, Vitura notes Cortexa has the option to partner with a local contract manufacturer to produce GMP MDMA and psilocybin in Australia. Currently, all of PharmAla’s products are made in Canada and imported to Australia.
“We are very pleased to be forming this JV with Nick Kadysh and his highly experienced PharmAla team,” Vitura CEO Rodney Cocks said.
“Vitura is proud that one of the world’s leading players in the Psychedelic space has joined forces with us with the objective to establish Cortexa as the leading MDMA and psilocybin supplier in the Australian market.
“We are looking forward to working with the PharmAla team to bring a number of new, GMP manufactured treatment options to market at a time when major changes have been made to patient access to psychedelics in Australia.”
PharmAla CEO Nick Kadysh said the search for the right partner to enter the Australian market was exhaustive, and that the company spoke to half a dozen companies before landing on Vitura.
“In seeking a partner to become the market leading supplier of GMP manufactured MDMA and Psilocybin in Australia, we looked far and wide. We spoke to half a dozen entities in Australia, seeking not only an organisation with excellent relationships with regulators and good capitalisation, but a real reputation for operational excellence,” Kadysh said.
“On every metric, Rodney Cocks, Guy Headley and Vitura have exceeded our expectations.
“We consider ourselves very lucky to have them as a partner and look forward to great success in the Australian market over the coming years – both for Cortexa, and more importantly, for patients accessing Psychedelics in Australia.”
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