By Bloomberg
December 18, 2018

Tilray has signed a global partnership with a division of Swiss drug giant Novartis to develop and distribute its medical marijuana in legal jurisdictions around the world.

The Canadian pot firm said Tuesday it’s reached an agreement with Sandoz to boost the availability of medical cannabis products globally, building on an existing alliance with Sandoz Canada. The two companies will work together to commercialize Tilray’s non-smokable medical marijuana offerings, co-brand certain products, develop new products and educate pharmacists and physicians about pot.

Tilray jumped 13% pre-market in New York, to $74.20. Novartis fell 1% in Switzerland.

“It just made sense for us to reach an agreement with a company like Sandoz, which is known for its focus on patients, its reliable supply chain, a well-established sales force and a global distribution network,” Tilray Chief Executive Officer Brendan Kennedy said in a phone interview. “If a product comes into a pharmacy with the Sandoz logo co-branded on it, or if a pharmaceutical sales rep is talking to a physician about a product that’s branded as Tilray and Sandoz, it lends credibility to that product.”

Nanaimo, British Columbia-based Tilray and Sandoz Canada have been working together since March, when they announced an alliance to develop new medical cannabis products and collaborate on research and education. The companies also co-branded eight oil and capsule medical cannabis products and are joint members of the Common Initiative, a group that’s urging Canada to allow distribution of medical pot in pharmacies. Currently it’s only available via mail.

The partnership with Sandoz Canada “has been successful,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a very good experience, their team and their culture matches well with ours, we share similar values and visions for the future of the medical cannabis industry globally.”

For a time, Tilray was the largest cannabis company by market value until it was eclipsed by Canopy Growth. The shares have risen almost fourfold since its July IPO but have lost 78% from their peak on Sept. 19, reducing the market value to $6.1 billion. It has products available in 12 countries and operations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Portugal, and Latin America.

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