Innovation

Vyripharm helping standardize cannabinoid-based drugs in Texas


By Christine Hall | January 19, 2018

The future of the Texas Compassionate Use Program, which will allow some physicians to treat epilepsy with cannabinoid-based drugs, is right here at the Texas Medical Center.

At a meeting in early January, Vyripharm Biopharmaceuticals explained to a group of politicians, decision makers and medical cannabinoid advocates how the company is educating the state legislature on the best way to implement the program.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, signed into law on June 1, 2015, created a state licensing program for “dispensing organizations” to provide cannabis-based drugs and for doctors prescribing the drugs to join a physician registry and share information about dosages and administration.

As of December 2017, three dispensing organizations were chosen, and the companies are expected to begin dispensing in early 2018, according to media reports. Vyripharm, located in the TMC Innovation Institute’s TMCx+ incubator space, is assisting with setting the standards and guidelines for the companies as the Compassionate Use Program gets underway.

As part of the meeting, guests toured the company’s research laboratories at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Medical Botanical Center of Excellence at the University of Houston’s Innovation Center in partnership with Shimadzu, a scientific instruments company.

“The Medical Botanical Center of Excellence is the first fully-comprehensive pharmaceutical and medical botanical testing blockchain platform in Texas,” Elias Jackson, Ph.D., director of scientific public relations at Vyripharm, said. “This has been four years in the making and will allow patients to have pharmaceutical grade cannabinoid products across the board.”

Vyripharm aims to set the standard in the implementation of Compassionate Use programs across the country. The center’s facility follows the same U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards set for the pharmaceutical industry, he said.

By following the product from seed to patient, Vyripharm aims to meet the needs of Texas’s program by creating guidelines that will ensure the products are safe and consistent.

“If you go to the drugstore to get Tylenol for your fever, you know you are getting the same level of acetaminophen wherever you go,” said Tori Strong, Ph.D., Vyripharm’s director of intellectual property and technology. “This is the same thing we want to do with cannabinoids.”

In addition, the company wants to research the specific effects of cannabinoids in individual patients.

“Soon, we will be able to find out how an initial dose of cannabinoids is being used by the body in a particular person, know exactly what works for them and be able to dose according to their characteristics,” Jackson said.

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