The firm Flora Growth divulged its intention to seek Emergency Use Authorization for a cannabis-based product under the COVID-19 protocols in force in Columbia. Suppose the firm does get the necessary approval. In that case, it will be the first covid-19 prevention product in Columbia based on the cannabis herb. The firm has applied for a patent for its unique formulation to the US Patent Office. There have been several studies that testify to the drug’s bioavailability and safety.
Lack of Clinical Trials
However, the drug is yet to prove its efficacy against the COVID-19 disease through clinical trials. Accordingly, the firm’s research unit- Flora Pharma, is in talks with the local FDA equivalent- INVIMA. They are discussing the possibilities of a study that will shed more light on the physiological ways through which cannabinoids might work to prevent COVID-19 infection. Another primary goal of the study would also be to “obtain evidence to support this product’s use against SARS-CoV-2 and bring to market an effective, cannabinoid-based product.”
As scientist Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan who heads the Flora Pharma division, reveals, “The intent of the study is to identify safe and efficacious cannabinoid products for use on SARS-CoV-2 thus allowing us to pursue the fastest path to market via a preventative immunomodulating product and to explore the possibility of use as a therapeutic.”
In-Line With Recent Findings
The recent past has seen several critical scientific studies that certain cannabis compounds may work to prevent catching the COVID-19 infection. For example, a Chicago University study recently revealed that the cannabis component CBD can stop the virus replication in both human and mouse lung cells.
Another separate study found that patients who consume large amounts of CBD experienced significantly lower COVID-19 infection rates. In this context, we should also mention that the test subjects with lower COVID-19 rates didn’t consume large THC amounts.
In an even more fantastic find, a recent Oregon State University found that specific acidic cannabinoids prevented human cells from being infected with the COVID virus in the lab. Flora Growth stressed that the study they are planning on will “not be focusing on the cannabinoid acids alone in our studies, we will be following up on that study with the intention of adding more layers to their great research.”
Contradictions and Caveats
Before you jump off to any conclusion regarding cannabis being a wonder drug that might help prevent COVID-19, it is worth paying attention to the caveats. First, we should note that all the earlier studies were done on cells in labs. They were population-based studies that are pretty different from real-world human clinical trials. Also, the involved compounds were derived from cannabis and not the actual cannabis herb.
There are contradictions too for cannabis consumers lured by the prospect of both high and COVID prevention. One of the studies found that the herb’s efficacy to prevent getting infected drastically lessened when they smoked THC. Now cannabis is replete with THC, and it is the compound that causes the psychoactive high of the herb.
Additionally, some studies suggest that people dependent on cannabis had higher infection rates and worse outcomes for COVID-19. Cannabis smoking affects the lungs, putting a person at additional risks of the COVID viral infection.
The Anti-COVID Product Itself
Flora Growth intends to get approval as an anti-covid drug in Columbia is absent from any THC and does not result in a high. It is meant to be ingested orally. If the medicine gets through the health authorities in Columbia, its costs would be covered by insurance. The Columbian government has recently enacted a law making it mandatory for insurance firms to cover drugs for cannabis-based prescriptions.