New Zealand medicinal cannabis manufacturer Eqalis will offer its products to Australian patients after signing a deal with distribution firm Novachem.

Finished medicines, along with active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), will be made available later this year subject to minimum quality standard verification from NZ’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency.

Eqalis managing director Greg Misson

Eqalis managing director Greg Misson said the deal with Novachem gives it “first-mover advantage” in the Australian market.

“Our focus is on creating better health outcomes for patients through our suite of innovative products and technologies covering cultivation, extraction and manufacturing,” he said.

“The intellectual property behind our GMP-certified facility in Katikati, with its sophisticated manufacturing and extraction capabilities, enables us to set up for further international expansion.”

Misson said “several” more export deals are likely to emerge over the coming months.

“As more countries legislate for medicinal cannabis products, we are gearing up to provide our API and finished products to patients across the world,” he added.

Novachem cannabis products and business development manager, Andrew Heath, said: “Australian regulations… restrict distribution companies [from] sourcing finished products for wholesale supply. Our ability to sponsor and provide the Eqalis product for patients in Australia is a win-win trans-Tasman partnership.”

Meanwhile, Eqalis is continuing to work on its merger with fellow NZ operation Cannasouth, with Misson insisting it will “improve patient access”.

“Currently, the most significant barrier to the widespread uptake of medicinal cannabis is affordability for patients,” he said.

“The creation of the merged company, with true vertical integration, will bring diversification to the industry, without duplication – with the result being a substantial lowering of costs to patients.”

Cann Group

Cann Group has completed the first phase of the sale of its Southern cultivation and manufacturing facility to Sativite after the two parties agreed terms late last year.

Settlement of the land and building component of the deal has now completed for A$3.1 million, with Sativite granting Cann a lease to continue operating at the site on its behalf.

As well as the facility’s land and business assets, the arrangement includes the licensing of certain Cann genetics, and the provision of services from Cann to Sativite to facilitate the transfer of commercial operations.

Long-form documentation for the second stage of the transaction is being finalised. When completed, the deal will be worth almost $5.5m in total.

Vitura Health

Vitura has named board director Dr Simone Scovell as its new independent chairman, replacing Dr Marcia Walker who held the role in an acting capacity for almost a year.

Dr Scovell, a former director of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), joined the Vitura board in September.

Dr Walker will remain an independent, non-executive director.

Incannex Healthcare

Incannex has started a phase II clinical trial to determine the safety and efficacy of its IHL-675A CBD/hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) combination drug in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Mark Bleackley

The move comes after a successful phase I trial where IHL-675A was found to be well tolerated, and animal studies in which it was observed to reduce inflammatory disease scores more than HCQ alone. 

The trial, involving 120 eligible patients across eight to 10 sites in Australia and New Zealand, will be managed by contract research organisation Avance Clinical and form a critical component of future new drug applications.

Incannex chief scientific officer Dr Mark Bleackley said it was a “key milestone” in the drug’s development program.

He added: “We are excited to continue the development of this drug product to determine whether the remarkable preclinical efficacy we observed for IHL-675A in an animal disease model for arthritis is also seen to a similar extent in humans.”

After evaluating the previous results, Incannex said it believed the drug to be a multi-use candidate suitable for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory lung conditions and inflammatory bowel disease.

Lyphe Group

UK medicinal cannabis firm Lyphe Group has said it will exit “non-core markets” including Israel, but continue to operate in Australia where it sees the potential for a “significant bottom-line contribution”. 

Lyphe opened a telehealth clinic in Australia in August 2022.

The company has also announced a new capital raise led by existing investors and the completion of an internal restructure which will see CEO Jonathan Nadler leave the company. A new CEO has been identified and will be announced shortly.

The restructure was led by the company’s founder, Rob Reid, who rejoined the business two months ago.

Meanwhile, Lyphe has decided not to pursue its previously announced plan to acquire European-focused processor and distributor of medicinal cannabis Materia.

Reid said: “We have undergone an extensive restructuring with the support of our existing investors. 

“We continue to maintain a 30% market share in the UK, have entered the high-growth Australian market and now look forward with new leadership, a robust and reliable supply chain, and a genuine patient-first approach. 

The next chapter of our growth is set to bring many exciting and accretive opportunities.”


Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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