Global cannabis leader Khiron Life Sciences is expanding into the European sector with a patient focus.
Khiron Life Sciences is a vertically integrated global cannabis leader in both the medical and consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors. Khiron has core operations in Latin America and Europe, and is developing a growing reputation as a first mover into new markets. The company distributes throughout various countries in Latin America, along with activity in North America and Europe. The company is licensed in Colombia for the cultivation, production, domestic distribution, and international export of both low and high THC medical cannabis products from Colombia to the UK, Peru, Uruguay and Brazil and is now expanding into Europe with a patient focus.
Development and expansion
Khiron’s co-founders, CEO Alvaro Torres and VP of Business Development Andrés Galofre, launched the company in 2017, with a focused strategy to improve the quality of life for patients by changing the ways in which medical cannabis products are used and broadening their application as treatment options for common conditions such as anxiety and chronic pain, as well as more specific illnesses including Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Since establishing its Colombian operations, the company has expanded across three core operating segments:
- Medical cannabis: comprising both high THC and high CBD medical cannabis products. Khiron is the official supplier to the UK-based Project Twenty21, Europe’s largest medical cannabis study, which has 20,000 patients;
- Health services: Khiron owns and operates three medical clinics in Colombia, which offer medical cannabis as a therapeutic alternative In total, the three clinics currently provide services for more than 120,000 patients per year; and
- Wellbeing: Khiron has developed the first CBD-based portfolio of skincare products to become available on the Colombian market. The Kuida skincare line is available in 350 retail stores throughout Colombia and can be accessed through e-commerce channels in the US, UK and Spain.
As a vertically integrated company, Khiron cultivates its own cannabis plants, which are then processed for the production of its branded medical, compassionate use, wellness and adult use products. Leveraging Latin America’s ideal climate, low cost labour base and agricultural knowhow, the company’s cultivation and processing operations are optimised for abundant, pharmaceutical-grade growth. In March 2020 Khiron achieved a major milestone in Colombia on receipt of Good Experimental Practices (GEP) lab certification, beginning a new phase for the company in commercialising its medical cannabis product pipeline and bringing it closer to meeting its market potential.
Serving the Latin American market
With a population of approximately 212 million, Brazil represents the largest addressable market in Latin America. Khiron recently entered into an agreement with Medlive, a leader in the distribution of medical and hospital products in the south of Brazil, which serves more than 3,000 hospitals and clinics in the public and private sectors. The company’s medical cannabis products will be marketed through the Medlive network of doctors’ surgeries, clinics, hospitals and governmental institutions.
The company has another agreement with Farmacia Universal, an established magistral formulation laboratory and pharmacy, to manufacture and distribute Khiron-branded medical cannabis products in Lima: the capital of Peru, and its largest city with 8.6 million inhabitants. Khiron’s Peruvian business unit has already obtained certifications in Good Storage Practices (GSP) as a pharmaceutical entity, a crucial prerequisite for import and commercialisation licence applications in the country. In Peru, only registered pharmaceutical establishments which have fulfilled GSP requirements are authorised to participate in wholesale import and commercialisation of cannabis products.
In a highly regulated industry, Khiron has acted as a leader in regulatory development pertaining to medical cannabis across Latin America, as recent changes to the traditionally strict legislation have begun to allow for the cultivation, commercialisation, and prescribing of medical cannabis; within parameters which provide research and health advantages, while creating economic and societal benefit.
The Khiron approach has been to establish relationships and awareness within key jurisdictions, so that as legislation evolves, the company is already optimally positioned to secure market share and revenue. The company is applying this same model as it begins to grow its activity in Europe.
“From day one we have been an active participant in the development of the medical cannabis industry in Colombia and across Latin America; and we are bringing this same leadership to our operations in Europe,” comments Khiron Europe President Tejinder Virk. “The European market is still in its formative years and regulatory protocols are expected to evolve – and with firms such as Khiron leading the path forward on issues from compliance to innovation, the region will undoubtedly play a pivotal role as the multi-billion dollar global cannabis industry matures.”
In 2018, shortly after becoming the first Colombian cannabis company to trade globally, Khiron began acquiring clinic networks in Colombia, including facilities which treat neurological and nervous system pathologies. The company now owns and operates two Latin American Institute of Neurology and the Nervous System (ILANS); clinics and in early 2020 opened its Zerenia integrated medical care facility, increasing clinical capacity by 75%. These clinics are staffed by over 60 health professionals and serve a network with over 155,000 patient transactions for medical and wellness treatment options.
Khiron recently introduced a telemedicine service, providing patients with essential remote access to doctor consultations and ensuring prescriptions can be delivered directly to patients homes. The company has formed strategic alliances with firms such as such as Locatel, a pharmacy and retailer of healthcare products and medical equipment in Colombia, with a database of two million patients and customers and experience managing magistral preparations.
Introducing Kuida skincare
In addition to production of medical cannabis, Colombia’s regulations also allow for the commercialisation of cannabidiol-infused cosmetic products. Khiron has tapped into this opportunity to market CBD-based products targeted to consumers. In 2018, the company became the first fully licensed medical cannabis company to receive approval from Colombia’s National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute (INVIMA) for the commercialisation of cannabinoid-based products; and subsequently launched its Kuida line of CBD cosmeceutical products later that year.
Operating under its Wellbeing unit, there are now eleven unique items available in the Kuida line, which comprises a range of cannabis-based products for beauty, lifestyle, fitness, nutrition and healthy living. Kuida is distributed across more than 350 retail stores in Colombia, as well as through its own e-commerce channels (kuidaskincare.com) and the market leading Rappi delivery app, which is used daily across Latin America. Khiron has fulfilled the regulatory requirements necessary to import and distribute all eleven Kuida cosmeceutical products into Europe, with sales in the UK through kuidaskincare.co.uk and the TJC home shopping network. The brand is currently launching in Spain and is also carried in permissive states in the US.
Education, training and academia
As the cannabis industry has become increasingly commercialised, it has been essential to provide continuing education resources for both patients and doctors. Again, Khiron has been a leader in this field, launching the largest medical cannabis conference in Colombia and co-hosting CannaMexico: the most significant cannabis event of its kind in Latin America. The company is also highly active as a host and participant in education forums in Latin America and Europe, working alongside prominent health professionals, researchers and educators to develop best practices and promote further learning for the global cannabis market.
Khiron recently entered a partnership with Tecnológico de Monterrey, a leading university in Mexico, to establish a physicians’ educational programme which provides medical cannabis training to up to 1,500 doctors utilising Khiron’s proprietary e-learning model. The company also maintains partnerships with several medical and research institutions that study integrative medicine and its effects on chronic pain, cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; including the Colombia Military University and the Colombian Association of Neurology.
In 2019, the company was invited to become the exclusive Latin American medical cannabis provider for Project Twenty21, Europe’s largest ongoing medical cannabis study, which is enrolling over 20,000 patients to create the largest available body of evidence for medical cannabis. The project will study the potential offered by cannabis as a treatment option for conditions which include chronic pain; epilepsy; multiple sclerosis; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Tourette syndrome; anxiety disorder; and patients who are dealing with addiction and the residual harms of substance misuse.
The company has since announced its first medical cannabis prescriptions for UK patients participating in Project Twenty21. With 20,000 patients in the programme, and a potential path to wide scale legalisation for medical cannabis following the programme’s completion, the pipeline for sales growth out of the UK has the potential to act as a large catalyst for Khiron in the near future. For example, by 2024 the UK medical cannabis market is predicted to be worth nearly £1bn, servicing nearly 340,000 active patients. The company completed its first import of EU Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified medical cannabis products to the UK under a strategic partnership which permits Khiron to deliver patients’ prescriptions directly to their homes. UK medical cannabis clinics and doctors have received regulatory approval to conduct teleconsultations with patients: a new milestone in opening up patient access.
Khiron Life Sciences Corp
Bijan Christoph Hezarkhani
Business Development Manager, Europe