Recognising New Zealand as the next global player in medicinal cannabis, a leading American manufacturer of dietary supplements approached Medical Kiwi about working together. Last week, Empirical Labs and Medical Kiwi directors signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Empirical Labs head office in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Established in December 2018, Medical Kiwi was the first medicinal cannabis company in the South Island to be granted a cultivation license by the Ministry of Health, allowing the company to establish a cannabis breeding programme for research and development for medicinal cannabis.

Poised to provide New Zealanders with the medicinal cannabis products they need once the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act is passed this December, and for when the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is up and running in 2020, Medical Kiwi has been furthering its strategy of cementing strategic international relationships, the latest being with Empirical Labs.

Medical Kiwi has already secured an uptake deal and signed an MoU with UK distributor Liberty Herbal Technologies Ltd, giving Medical Kiwi the rights to sell Liberty’s medicinal cannabis products and allowing Medical Kiwi to supply Liberty with medicinal cannabis for its hapac devices sold globally. Medical Kiwi has also signed an exclusive distribution deal with Vitality CBD Limited, allowing Medical Kiwi to import and sell Vitality CBD’s full range of 0% THC products, currently sold across the UK including in Boots stores, Tesco supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores.

Describing last week’s signing, Kelly Goyen Empirical Labs’ CEO says it ensures both companies are well placed to take advantage of the ever-growing cannabinoid market.

“When we met with Medical Kiwi, our distinct synergies were obvious,” Goyen says. “We both strive to bring innovative and ground-breaking products for customers.

“This growth industry will come with challenges, however, in our experience a focus on innovation and having a clear Go-to-Market strategy overcomes any challenges,” he says. “Empirical Labs has a simple ethos, which is to establish long term partnerships with our key customers, with the goal of developing exceptional products. We know that together Empirical Labs’ and Medical Kiwi’s teams will make a huge impact in the market. It is exciting times.”

Medical Kiwi Chairperson Aldo Miccio says the MoU with Empirical Labs is a coup for the company, and the New Zealand industry.

“The world’s eyes are on New Zealand and we were extremely pleased that a global leader with 30 years’ experience in formulation and optimal ways of delivering pharmaceuticals, came through our door to work with us,” says Miccio.

“Our new relationship with Empirical Labs means that we can get proven cannabis products quicker to market as they are ahead of New Zealand in research and development,” he says. “We also have an opportunity to develop some very exciting IP with Empirical Labs as we work together to develop new and unique medicinal cannabis products.

“As well as gaining immediate access to product innovations, their strong team complements our team, so we can share expertise while learning from their experience. It is a win-win,” he says.

Miccio adds that in the future Medical Kiwi will also supply Empirical Labs with its own dried Nelson Tasman-produced cannabis for the uniquely co-created medicinal and wellness products.

Medical Kiwi Directors Dr Michael Packer and Dr David Porter visited Empirical Labs last week. Dr Porter says they were very impressed with Empirical’s facilities and processes.

“Empirical Labs demonstrated extreme attention to detail with respect to ingredient selection, solvent-free extraction and manufacturing processes,” says Dr Porter. “They have developed a new way of packaging product in microsomes – tiny balls of natural fat that transport the product across the gut lining and through the liver before releasing the product into the body.

“What that means is far more of the dose gets where it’s needed as the gut and liver break down a big proportion of an oral dose before it even reaches the bloodstream and target tissue,” he says. “It is very impressive.”

More information can be found on the Medical Kiwi website. www.medicalkiwi.com and at www.facebook.com/MedicalKiwiNZ/.