Israeli Cannabis Inhaler May Get Tested With Opium Poppy Next

  • Teva to market Syqe’s cannabis inhaler in Israel next year
  • Syqe founder says U.S. market is ‘an obvious target’

The inhaler Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. will start distributing in Israel to treat pain with cannabis next year may get tested for other plants, including the opium poppy, by developer Syqe Medical.

Syqe, which manufactures the device, will try loading it with opium and other painkilling substances as well as consider selling it in its current cannabis-dispensing form -- the one Teva agreed to market -- beyond Israel, according to the Tel Aviv-based company’s founder.

“Israel is clearly just the start,” Perry Davidson, chief executive officer as well as founder, said by text message. “We expect to be approved for use in other countries in due course. The U.S., as the biggest medical cannabis market, is an obvious target.”

Israel, one of the pioneers in medical cannabis research, is taking steps to expand the industry this year by allowing more growers, which may swell from the current eight to as many as 200. Local hospitals host medical trials testing cannabis for diseases that include epilepsy, pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism and fibromyalgia.

Syqe’s inhaler, which comes with cartridges loaded with medical cannabis, has been used for more than a year at the Haifa-based Rambam hospital, the first in the world to prescribe marijuana as a standard medical treatment, according to Teva.

Syqe has raised $33 million, including $20 million from Philip Morris International, for which it’s developing a device to reduce the harmful effects of smoking. Asked about possibly selling shares to the public next year, the company said it wasn’t ruling out any funding options.

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