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Barrie-based cannabis company taking root Down Under

MediPharm Labs receives state licences in Australia to store, test and supply cannabis for research purposes at a new facility in Wonthaggi
2019-12-06 MediPharm Labs Australia
To mark the official opening of MediPharm Labs Australia today, on hand was Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews for a plaque unveiling. From left are Bass MP Jordan Crugnale, Andrews, Asia Pacific - MediPharm Labs CEO Warren Everitt, Wonthaggi Mayor Brett Tessari, and John Skerritt, deputy secretary with the Department of Health. Photo supplied

The Australian subsidary of a Barrie-based company has received government licences to store, test and supply cannabis for research purposes at a new facility Down Under. 

MediPharm Labs, which was founded in 2015, describes itself as "a global leader in specialized, research-driven cannabis extraction, distillation" and purified cannabis concentrates.

The company, which has a local facility on John Street, announced today that MediPharm Labs Australia, formed in 2017, has received state licences for cannabis substances from the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria, Australia.

MediPharm Labs Australia has also completed the initial phases of construction of its specialized extraction facility for research purposes in Wonthaggi, a small town of about 4,000 people located 135 kilometres southeast of Melbourne.

Construction of the 10,000-square-foot plant began 18 months ago. The final stage of regulatory approvals is now underway and is expected in early 2020, which will make MediPharm Labs Australia "a first mover in the Australian market for the manufacture of cannabis derivative products," according to a news release issued today by the company. 

“We envisioned that MediPharm Labs Australia would be a pioneering leader in the supply of high-quality, pharmaceutical-like cannabis derivative products for the domestic Australian and international export markets,” Warren Everitt, chief executive officer for MediPharm Labs in the Asia Pacific region, said in the release.

“The achievements we mark today reflect tremendously well on our domestic engineering, project management and regulatory affairs capabilities, and provide tangible evidence that our vision will soon be realized for the benefit of our customers, shareholders and the Australian economy," he added. 

MediPharm Labs Australia was designed to have annual capacity of 75,000 kilograms and to replicate the high-quality standards of the company’s Canadian production facility in Barrie. It features multi-phase, "supercritical" carbon-dioxide extraction equipment, clean rooms and testing laboratories. 

Both facilities were built to achieve good manufacturing practices (GMP) certifications. A GMP certificate from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration is the next priority start-up step, with the regulatory audit process already proceeding, according to the company.

“Starting a business is never easy, but the skilled team at MediPharm Labs Australia under Warren’s direction has made it look that way,” MediPharm Labs CEO Pat McCutcheon said in the release. “I congratulate everyone involved for quickly bringing us to this advanced pre-production phase.

"We’re now starting the final countdown to the commercialization of the asset," McCutcheon added. 

To mark the completion of facility construction, Everitt hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony today where Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, Commonwealth Department of Health deputy secretary John Skerritt and Wonthaggi Mayor Brett Tessari addressed the audience.

“Victoria is continuing to lead the way in medicinal cannabis in Australia and we are proud to support MediPharm Labs in calling Wonthaggi, Gippsland its Australian home," Andrews said. “We’re proud to be actively attracting investment in this ground-breaking industry that will not only improve the lives of patients around the world but also create local jobs.”

Ground was broken at the Wonthaggi site in June 2018, followed this past February with the signing of a two-year sales agreement with AusCann Operations for cannabis concentrate to be exported to Australia from Canada. Cannabis concentrate to be used for hard-shell capsules to research and treat chronic pain.

In May, the company received a cannabis manufacturing licence from the Australian Office of Drug Control (ODC) under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967.

The following month, they announced the first export of medical cannabis concentrate to Australia in accordance with Health Canada export and Australian ODC import permits. In October, they announced a second set of larger exports of medical cannabis concentrate from Canada to Australia.

MediPharm Labs specializes in the production of purified, pharmaceutical-like cannabis oil and concentrates and advanced derivative products utilizing a GMP-designed facility and ISO standard built clean rooms. The company has invested in an "expert, research-driven team, state-of-the-art technology, downstream purification methodologies and purpose-built facilities with five primary extraction lines for delivery of pure, trusted and precision-dosed cannabis products for its customers."

Through its wholesale and white label platforms, they formulate, process, package and distribute cannabis extracts and advanced cannabinoid-based products to domestic and international markets. 

Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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