Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Big Pharma Collects Most Canadian Cannabis Patents

AaaThat's the title of a new look at the about-to-explode Canadian market for marijuana conducted by Grow Biotech and New Frontier Data.  In one sense this isn't surprising--big companies have big R&D budgets and big patent-prosecution operations.  On the other hand, there seem to be a lot of patents for something that's still highly illegal.  From the study:

Seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are major multi-national pharmaceutical companies, according to a joint research project between Washington D.C. based New Frontier Data, the global authority in data, analytics, and business intelligence for the cannabis industry, and London based cannabis bio-technology firm, Grow Biotech .

“Big Pharma’s inevitable entrance into the Cannabis space has arrived.  The top nine medical conditions for which Cannabis can be used as an alternative treatment could cannibalize as much as $20 billion in U.S. pharmaceutical sales in the next two years. As more medicinal applications for the plant are discovered, and more physicians and patients integrate cannabis into treatment regimes, the potential impact of cannabis on healthcare will continue to grow for years to come,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer.

Leading Canada’s Cannabis Patent Race

CIBA-GEIGY AG (Switzerland): 21
PFIZER PRODUCTS INC. (United States of America): 14
GW PHARMA LIMITED (United Kingdom): 13
MERCK SHARP & DOHME CORP (United States of America): 11
OGEDA S.A. (Belgium): 7
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT (United States of America): 6

With Canada poised to be the first G-7 country to fully legalize cannabis, firms have been racing to secure protectable intellectual property (IP) before the market launches an adult use market later this year.  Notably, pharmaceutical firms are among the leading cannabis patent holders in Canada. These patents, which would have been difficult to enforce while cannabis remained illegal, will become enforceable post-legalization, giving the patent holders a key strategic advantage in an increasingly competitive market.

--Frank Snyder

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