MIRACLE DRUG

Jamaica 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Henry Lowe, CEO of Medicanja, on the company's revolutionary work on treating leukemia, other projects in the works, and growth plans.

Dr. Henry Lowe
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Henry Lowe has contributed approximately 50 years to the fields of science, technology, and the health sciences nationally, regionally and internationally. His recognitions include the Prime Minister’s National Medal in Science & Technology, Order of Jamaica, and Commander of the Order of Distinction. Dr. Lowe is a scientist, author, educator, and successful entrepreneur. He was educated at the University of the West Indies, University of Sydney (MSc), Manchester University (PhD), Harvard University, and MIT.

Medicanja recently received orphan drug status for Chrysoeriol from the FDA. Would you tell us about the development and future vision of this product?

As far as I am aware, this is the first time a developing country has had an orphan drug approved by the FDA for its potential to treat leukemia. Medicanja started work on this about six years ago. We looked at how we could get out of the stereotype of looking at cannabis as a crude drug resource. As the cannabis business frees up and more businesses get involved, it will become unattractive financially. This is why we decided to go into nutraceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals. We are fortunate that our research on medicinal plants over the years has given us great leverage to move into this new pathway. I need to give credit to the University of Maryland Medical School, which has supported us, along with friends and family who could see we were onto something great. We expect the FDA and NIH to support us financially as we work toward commercialization.

What are your other products and projects?

We are likely to make a second submission to the FDA early in 2018 for a pancreatic cancer drug. This type of cancer is deadly and usually kills most people within six months of diagnosis. If we can develop and bring this drug to market, Jamaica will be on the world map for finding a product to manage a major global medical problem. Apart from the pharmaceuticals we have done a great deal of nutraceuticals work. We have developed a nutraceutical called Alpha Prostate Formula. However, because of its efficacy and no toxicity, doctors are prescribing it for enlarged prostate and the prevention of prostate cancer. We have also developed a total of 10 other nutraceuticals as supplements. These are medicinal treatments that we select, formulate, and blend. In addition, we have what we call cosmeceuticals, skin products, developed from our plant products. This is potentially a multi-billion-dollar business. At this time, we need investors to support our work because it is expensive. Finally, we have developed the first and only health and wellness facility in the region, Eden Gardens Wellness and Lifestyle. We have a corporate structure with a one-of-a-kind hotel containing 22 suites and three restaurants, one of which is purely vegetarian. We hold corporate events here and have a number of healthcare practitioners, such as nutritionists and chiropractors.

How do you assess the global potential for medical cannabis?

I have been involved in this type of work since 1972, and I am the only person who has been granted the retail and therapeutic licenses in the areas I wanted. We are just awaiting our dispensary license. We are the only company involved with cannabis R&D to have had eight products approved by the Ministry of Health and licensed by the Jamaica Cannabis Licensing Authority. We also have a biotech R&D institute on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. This research facility is used to develop both our nutraceuticals and cannabis-based products. In theory, Medicanja could be looking at an annual revenue of over USD100 million when we build out our market in the next three years or so. The nutraceutical industry is worth over half a trillion dollars, so I am looking for investors who can come on board and join us as we move forward. The lack of access to loans and funding for businesses in Jamaica has to change. For example, in my small operation I employ 135 people, which has had quite an impact, but we cannot keep doing this indefinitely unless we get loans or grants.

Are you considering listing the company?

Yes, possibly in first or second quarter of 2018. All market indicators suggest that it is timely and should be successful.