EXCLUSIVE: Two former Althea staff have joined forces to launch new cannabis consultancy ‘Holmes and Wilson’ with a focus on assisting the industry transition to the pharmaceutical environment. 

Ex-global medical affairs director Patty Holmes and ex-regulatory affairs manager Fiona Wilson have teamed up to help the medicinal cannabis and allied industries navigate the Australian pharmaceutical environment and the regulatory standards of development, registration, communication, and supply.

Holmes said: “There are people who know pharmaceutical development and there are people who know medicinal cannabis, and there’s not a lot of crossover between the two.”

The pair hope to do this through their combined backgrounds — Holmes has medicinal cannabis and commercial expertise while Wilson has 30-plus years’ regulatory and medical affairs experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

Fiona Wilson (left) and Patty Holmes (right)

The consultancy currently has three unnamed clients, and is motivated by issues around patient access. 

Holmes added: “We see medicinal cannabis as a great therapeutic option, and the lack of patient access is really frustrating.”

She said the consultancy aims to help industry players such as suppliers make sure they have all the information they need in the development and supply of the products they’re offering. That they’re very targeted, specific, and able to meet regulatory requirements.  That’s one way to help them.

“The other way is helping individual companies with their educational and marketing activities, to increase the footprint of prescribing doctors so there’s more doctors who are comfortable and confident in prescribing.

Holmes added the consultancy is also keen to work with patient groups, medical bodies and advertising companies to help them understand medicinal cannabis.

Wilson added: “I hope there will be a way of working with the regulators as well, trying to help them understand the medicinal cannabis industry perspective, but also help the industry understand the regulators, because at the moment the TGA can be perceived as the big, bad guy. But in the end, you just have to work with them.” 

The ultimate aim is to support the Australian medicinal cannabis industry to become more commercially viable, and transition from a “teenager ” to an “adult” said Holmes.

This includes the big challenges facing the local industry, such as the successful registration of a Schedule 3 product and the evolving landscape of GMP compliance.

While the focus is local, Holmes said the international landscape cannot be ignored. 

She added: “It’s really important for us as a business to keep up to date on what’s happening in overseas territories, because we can provide that market intelligence back to the Australian industry. There’s a whole bunch of other territories that are looking towards legalisation which would open up more export opportunities for Australian manufacturers.”

Despite the changing regulatory framework and challenges facing the industry, Holmes and Wilson believe it is at a turning point.

Holmes said: “We’re very positive about the industry. It’s a dynamic, albeit challenging sector, but we’re really keen to help it progress.”

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...