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An Israeli’s quest to mainstream medical marijuana

Distribution deal of patented inhaler with pharma giant Teva is culmination of decade-long effort by Perry Davidson

Syqe Medical CEO Perry Davidson. (Channel 2 screenshot)
Syqe Medical CEO Perry Davidson. (Channel 2 screenshot)

For Perry Davidson the recent deal signed with pharmaceutical giant Teva to distribute his medical marijuana inhaler is the culmination of his decade-long goal to mainstream medical cannabis treatments.

“I wanted to get rid of the ‘bad boy’ reputation that marijuana has,” Davidson, an Israeli medical marijuana activist who became CEO of medical startup Syqe Medical, told Channel 2 on Friday.

In his eyes, medical cannabis was being held back because there was no way to accurately dispense the exact amounts of the drug a patient needed. So he designed and patented his inhaler, which he says is the world’s first that enables the precise delivery of botanicals at the level of safety and precision of conventional drugs.

Last month Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Syqe signed a distribution and cooperation agreement to market medical cannabis in an inhaler.

Medical marijuana at the Tikkun Olam dispensary in Tel Aviv on September 1, 2016. Along with guidance from Tikun Olam's specially trained nursing staff, patients can decide to purchase their prescription in flower form, pre-rolled joints, pills, or tinctures. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Medical marijuana at the Tikkun Olam dispensary in Tel Aviv on September 1, 2016. Along with guidance from Tikun Olam’s specially trained nursing staff, patients can decide to purchase their prescription in flower form, pre-rolled joints, pills, or tinctures. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Under the agreement, Teva will be the exclusive marketer and distributor in Israel of the inhaler developed by Syqe. The accord marks the first time that a major global pharma company has agreed to market a medical cannabis product.

“When a major pharmaceutical company puts its reputation behind it, it gives it a legitimacy in the eyes of doctors, patients, scientists and the whole world,” said Davidson.

The pursuit of respectability has not changed Davidson, who still wears a trademark Mohawk hair cut and jeans. But it has affected the design of the inhaler, which was made to look as “boring as possible,” said Davidson.

“We call it the ‘Trojan Horse,’ we want it to go into the health system without anyone raising a an eyebrow,” he said in the TV interview.

Davidson also detailed how he went from being one of the initial activists behind Tikun Olam, a company that started legally growing medical marijuana in 2006, to founding Syqe and convincing Dr. Eytan Hyam, former director-general of the Health Ministry, to come on board as company chairman.

“I didn’t let him get away,” he said.

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