Patients in Israel will likely consider a startup’s new venture a breath of fresh air… or cannabis.
Syqe Medical Ltd., a government-backed startup based in Tel Aviv has developed the world’s first metered-dosed cannabis inhaler. The Syqe inhaler aims to allow physicians to customize dosages of the medicine, catering to patients’ specific needs. Through the use of these inhalers, medical professionals can obtain more control over treatment.
The handheld device is equipped with a cartridge containing small granules of cannabis, allowing the inhaler to deliver doses as small as one milligram.
As medical marijuana is quickly infiltrating the realm of mainstream medicine, doctors remain skeptical about prescribing it to patients since they are not able to measure out doses with the same precision as they could with pharmaceutical drugs. Consequently, patients turn to cannabis edibles, vaporizers and tinctures which can be hit or miss, as their potency may be more ambiguous.
That’s where the Syqe inhaler comes in. According to Syqe Medical, the inhaler’s explicit delivered quantity of THC will allow patients to reach an ideal balance between pain relief and psychoactivity.
Syqe Medical’s founder and chief executive Perry Davidson told The Wall Street Journal, “we are directly manipulating the human psyche in a very precise manner.”
The inhaler requires a fraction of the marijuana usually prescribed on a monthly basis, as Davidson said that it puts the medicine into a form that makes it harder to resell on the black market for a profit.
The company was able to develop the inhaler through government funding — a testament to Davidson’s help founding Israel’s first state-sanctioned grower of medical marijuana several years ago. With more than 20,000 publicly-sanctioned users, Israel is one of the numerous countries outside the United States, where medical cannabis usage is expanding as a result of publicly-funded research.
Similar to those in the United States, regulators in Israel are looking for a controlled, dependable method to administer a medicine they know works.
According to an Israeli clinical study published in the September issue of Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, support for the use of medical cannabis to treat neuropathic pain is mounting. This is due to growing evidence that proves the success of inhaled therapy.
Elon Eisenberg, the director of the Pain Unit at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital stressed the importance of the inhaler’s accurate dosing in the journal. He described the device as “a pharmaceutical method for cannabis dosing, adding a much needed treatment in the limited armamentarium of effective therapies for the management of chronic pain.”
The Syqe team performed a clinical study with neuropathic pain patients to demonstrate the inhaler’s effectiveness. Research results showed that a small dosage led to a significant reduction in neuropathic pain intensity at the 20 minute mark. The effects wore off by 90 minutes and there were minimal side effects including a small amount of lightheadedness which was resolved quickly.
Ultimately, the device proved to be successful because the amount of THC in the blood was uniform across the patient population.
Davidson hopes to bring the inhalers into local hospitals for pilot testing by the end of the year. While the device still requires further testing, Israeli health officials are thoroughly monitoring the company’s progress.
Over the last three years, Israel’s Chief Scientists office has already provided about $1 million in research and development stipends.
However, before the device makes it to Israeli hospitals, Syqe Medical hopes to raise $10 to $15 million with some of the money coming from American investors. The startup considers the United States its main market in the future and cited research which predicts the market in America will grow by eight times, reaching $10 billion in the next five years.
Davidson’s main goal with the inhaler is to help introduce cannabis as a mainstream drug, making physicians comfortable with prescribing it to patients. He plans for the inhaler to be available for home use in 2015.
Would you use a cannabis inhaler to help manage your condition? Tell us in the comments.