Aleafia Health Patient Outcomes Point to Potential Pivot from Opioids and Benzos towards Medical Cannabis—a potential $25 Billion shift
Heading into the last week of January, vertically integrated Canadian medicinal cannabis company Aleafia Health Inc. (TSXV: ALEF) (OTCQX: ALEAF) (FRA: ARAH) announced study results that could provide a ray of hope for patients struggling to find alternatives to a major group of sedatives, or more commonly known, anti-anxiety medications. This data adds to the mounting case for medicinal cannabis as a clinically validated alternative to problematic drug classes including painkillers and psychoactive drugs.
Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs that are connected with increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more is that people don’t want to walk around in a haze anymore, as these drugs tend to create sluggishness or lethargy in a patient. They include diazepam and valium and are also used to fight alcohol withdrawal. But the risk of side effects from those common drugs is causing many patients and health care providers to look to the increasingly detailed information and higher availability of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for safer and equally effective options. They may even see better results in the short term and increased the ability to stick with a course of treatment when using specialized cannabis approaches.
Data Shows Drop in Distress When Switching to Cannabis
Researchers took a look at the medical records of 146 patients who were treated with medical cannabis in Aleafia Health’s 21 Canabo Medical Clinics in Canada and found that more than 45 percent of them stopped taking benzodiazepines entirely within half a year of initiating medical cannabis under physician supervision. The patients said they felt less daily distress overall during the study period. This retrospective study data indicates the potential for medicinal cannabis to help some of the many millions of patients taking these types of drugs in Canada, and in the U.S. The American Geriatrics Society has called benzodiazepines “potentially inappropriate medications,” and interestingly the rate of their use in women has been shown to be
Big Benefits to Patients and Big Opportunities for Aleafia
By going up against entrenched pharmaceutical approaches with clinically validated medicinal cannabis, Aleafia has the opportunity to leverage its deep and growing patient database to make the case for cannabis and better serve existing and future customers. The global market for prescription sedatives was $2 billion in 2017, and in the same year, $23 billion in prescription opioids were sold. The demand is there, and with those drugs, so is the risk of side effects including dependence, overdose, and death. Aleafia is steadily showing a better way to patients across Canada and seeing them turn around their medication regimens toward a more holistic alternative. Investors should also benefit from Aleafia’s emphasis on provider-led exploration of treatment options. This stands in contrast to legalized, recreational use of cannabis strains and products that are not subject to the rigorous clinical process Aleafia delivers through its end-to-end sequence of licensed production, R&D, product development and its Canabo clinics.
Aleafia’s positive switchover news is but a ding to drug companies such as Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) which makes the prominent benzodiazepine Xanax, and it also doesn’t pose much of a threat to companies like Endo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENDP) who derive the majority of their revenue from prescription opioid sales. In the near term, however, this study and Aleafia’s very ability to announce such a measurement through its clinical reach does further distinguish it from fellow Canadian cannabis companies including Tilray (NASDAQ: TLRY) and Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON).
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