The Business Year

Álvaro Torres

COLOMBIA - Health & Education

Álvaro Torres

CEO & Director, Khiron Life Sciences Corp.


Álvaro Torres has over 15 years of wide-ranging experience in the Latin American market. Torres was previously head of business development for SNC-Lavalin, Colombia, and was instrumental in growing the company from two people to more than 2,000 people over the course of three years. He has overseen the development of projects totaling over USD1 billion, including the development and construction of Colombia’s tallest skyscraper. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and an MBA from Georgetown University.

“Cannabis could be a major component of integrated care.“

Khiron recently became the first Colombian company to export a cannabis-based cosmetic product, Kuida, to the US. What does this milestone mean for your company?

It means we are able to deliver on what we have promised to our investors, which is important at this point in our industry’s development. Now, it is about building credibility with investors. Our focus is now on distribution, sales, channels, and investment, so we can grow our business in the US. Hopefully, our investors will look at the sales volumes of Kuida products and see if we can achieve the promise of a global brand. In other exciting news, the government is changing its hesitant stance on THC-based products. It is good to know that the government is finally moving ahead and realizing it needs to meet the milestones investors are waiting for. Getting the THC quota in order is positive and means we can start growing in 4Q2019. Though the government’s approval for THC-based products was important, we now have to work on getting the quotas for 2020.

You plan to build a clinic called Zerenia. Can you tell us about the model for the clinics you operate?

Our company believes in improving people’s quality of life with the applied use of cannabis. That translates into what we want to build for our clinics, and Zerenia in particular. Zerenia is an integrated care management clinic where we consider the trifecta of body, mind, and spirit. We are treating patients for conditions like chronic pain or epilepsy holistically. We believe that cannabis is part of that trifecta; it is not the solution to every problem, but in integrated care, cannabis could be a major component for improving lives. There is nothing like Zerenia in Colombia or Latin America. We plan to open it hopefully by the beginning of 2020. It will treat conditions like chronic pain, dermatology, epilepsy, abnormal movements, and sleep deprivation. We hope to do two things through the clinic: show that medical cannabis can be a good medication for certain conditions and demonstrate that integrated care can create a strong relationship between Khiron and its patients.

What are your current expansion plans in Latin America?

In 2020, we want to focus on countries where favorable regulations are in place. That means Colombia is our number-one priority since it is closest to legalizing cannabis and ensuring we can start prescribing. In Mexico, there are still many steps needed to be able to sell. Our focus is on delivering what we promised patients in Colombia and focus on our Kuida sales in the UK and the US. Finally, we want to continue our process of understanding which countries in Latin America are ready for the sale of medical cannabis. We will focus on execution until that time. It is good that we have created an image of Khiron that will stay for a long time due to our investments in getting our name out to doctors. Good execution across the board will have a big say in 2020. As for the industry in Colombia, it would be great to see more companies on the sales and export sides. That would show investors and the community that faith in Colombia was well-placed. Worldwide, one expectation is Canada and its “Cannabis 2.0.“ We are waiting to see what happens with edibles, vaporizers, and so on. At present, “Cannabis 1.0“ has not been what everyone expected. If Cannabis 2.0 goes ahead in January 2020, and consumers start buying beverages, vaporizers, and topical products, and companies start generating good revenues, it will boost the industry. Overall, market dynamics play a role in valuations. Investors are waiting to see those dynamics going well before they choose which companies to invest in. Regardless, Khiron has to execute its business plan in Colombia. That’s the only thing we can control.



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