Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart Is Handing Over The Reins Of Its Cannabis Vertical To This Biopharma Company

Shoppers Drug Mart, one of Canada’s most recognized retail brands boasting more than 1,300 retail pharmacy stores, will reveal on Tuesday plans to transition its Medical Cannabis by Shoppers business to Avicanna, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company focused on the research and development of cannabinoid-based products. According to information procured exclusively, Shoppers Drug Mart will support patients throughout the transfer over the next few months; Avicanna will take over completely after this period.

The Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Journey

Since its launch in Ontario in January 2019, Medical Cannabis by Shoppers has provided patients access to medical cannabis products from more than 30 licensed brands and hundreds of SKUs for four years. The platform has assisted tens of thousands of people, working alongside patient groups to improve medical cannabis accessibility.

Jeff Leger, president of Shoppers Drug Mart, expressed gratitude for patients’ trust and confidence in Avicanna as the suitable partner to continue supporting them.

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“As we move away from medical cannabis distribution, we remain firm in our belief that this medication should be dispensed in pharmacies like all others and will continue our advocacy to that end,” he added. “After careful consideration, we have made the decision to transition our medical marketplace and services to MyMedi.ca, a new medical cannabis care platform run by Avicanna.”

A Comprehensive Medical Cannabis Platform

As part of the transition, Avicanna will launch MyMedi.ca, a medical cannabis care platform designed to enhance the patient journey. MyMedi.ca will provide pharmacist-led patient support programs and a product portfolio similar to Medical Cannabis by Shoppers, including various formats, brands and what is promised to be “competitive pricing.”

Avicanna’s CEO, Aras Azadian, reiterated the company’s commitment to building on Canada’s leading medical cannabis platform and continuing to advance medical cannabis integration into standard care.

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“Over the past 3 years we have had the pleasure of working with the medical cannabis by Shopper’s team to deliver over 20 of our proprietary products to Canadian patients and collaborate on translational research projects to better understand medical cannabis,” he said. “This is another reason that we are confident that with their transitional support, we can provide continuity to patients in the initial phase and ultimately enhance the overall patient journey as we are determined to establish MyMedi.ca as the standard for complete medical cannabis care.”

MyMedi.ca will offer a scientifically curated formulary of products and comprehensive training programs for the medical community, and focus on patient education in areas such as harm reduction. The online portal will also cater to distinct patient groups, including veterans, and offer reimbursement services from public and private providers, with initial transitional support from the Medical Cannabis by Shoppers team.

Enhancing The Patient Journey And Advancing Medical Cannabis In Canada

According to Azadian, advancing cannabinoid research and clinical collaborations will be integral to MyMedi.ca’s approach, ensuring continuous evolution and improvement in medical cannabis care. Avicanna has dedicated the past 6 years to R&D and clinical development with Canada’s leading institutions including UHN, Sick Kids and University of Toronto, to name a few. This another reason why management believes that its unique expertise and strict focus on cannabinoid-based medicine makes them the right fit for this transition.

Below is a timeline for the transition

  • MyMedi.ca is set to launch in May 2023, with both Medical Cannabis by Shoppers and MyMedi.ca operating concurrently from May to July 2023.
  • Both companies are collaborating to ensure a smooth transition of patients including access to products and ongoing patient support services to ensure continuity of care.

A Patient-Centric Approach

MyMedi.ca will prioritize patient care with pharmacist-supported and bilingual patient support programs through dedicated team representatives. Additionally, the new program will deliver pharmacovigilance, compassionate pricing, Veteran’s Affairs programs and insurance coverage through public and private payor partnerships.

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The platform will offer comprehensive educational resources for healthcare providers and patients, including training on dosing and titration, product recommendation guidelines and educational modules and courses. Patients will be educated on the benefits, harms, and risks of medical cannabis, coverage options and compassionate pricing programs.

MyMedi.ca will also emphasize harm reduction education and strategies, highlighting the risks of inhalation products and considerations to mitigate the risks of adverse events.

Stay tuned for more updates on this transition.

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