Israeli drug company to distribute world’s first selective-dose cannabis inhaler

© Alessandro Bianchi
Israeli drug maker Teva struck a deal with a Tel Aviv-based start-up to give patients an exclusive marijuana inhaler, which allows users to control the amount of the drug they consume.

On Monday, one of the world’s largest drug companies, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, signed an agreement with Syqe Medical to distribute a unique cannabis treatment technology. The pocket-sized device can be loaded with selective-dose cartridges, allowing patients to take an optimal dose of the drug.

The company’s new method provides individualized treatment as the amount can be remote-controlled by doctors and the inhaler’s automated dose feature.

“Thanks to the Syqe inhaler, we are effectively moving from cannabis use to cannabis treatment. For doctors, the inhaler solves the problem of prescribing plants for smoking, and offers a solution for patients in that, for the first time, they will be able to receive a precise dose of medical cannabis,” said Dr. Eytan Hyam, Syqe Medical chairman.

At the same time, the optimized dose is said to minimize the psychoactive effects, while providing pain relief.

“This device gives us physicians the confidence to prescribe cannabis in the same way as we prescribe other drugs today,” said Seth Kindler M.D., the company’s chief science officer.

The inhaler aims to solve problems connected with controlling medical marijuana use. On the one hand, it allows a precise amount of cannabis to be measured out.

“The ability to do so forms the basis for administering proper treatment and conducting significant scientific research. The development of this inhaler fulfills our greatest hopes, to be able to administer accurate and reliable doses of cannabis,” Elon Eisenberg, director of the Pain Research Department at Rambam Medical Center, as cited by The Times of Israel newspaper.

On the other hand, the gadget is convenient for patients who are unwilling or embarrassed to smoke in public.

Under the terms of the deal, the Syqe-produced inhaler will be distributed by Teva to different hospitals and clinics. The company expects to receive approval from the Israeli Health Ministry for domestic use by next year.

The features of the cannabis inhaler are seen by Syqe Medical as a step forward in making the drug a standard medical treatment not only in Israel, but around the world. The company has provided Haifa’s Rambam Hospital with the device for test treatment with the approval of the health ministry, making it the first to prescribe cannabis use with the device.

Marijuana is allowed for medical use in Israel by special permission. The Israeli Ministry of Health approved around 26,000 patients’ applications to use cannabis, while the figures are expected to double by 2018, according to numbers provided by the companies.