NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Despite the scientifically established harmful health effects of smoking, millions of people around the world still do it. Because of this, many large companies are looking for healthier ways to deliver active ingredients from tobacco and cannabis to people with a smoking habit.
- More than a billion people around the world smoke tobacco or cannabis, leading to 6 million deaths a year.
- Companies in the tobacco and cannabis sectors are looking for alternative delivery systems.
- Some alternatives may be more effective — and healthier — than smoking.
Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) (LXRP Profile) is one of the companies looking at alternative solutions, using fatty acids to make a pleasing, fast, effective delivery system for nicotine and cannabidiol (CBD). Tobacco company Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE: MO) is creating lower-risk tobacco products and recently received FDA approval for its latest offering. British American Tobacco Industries p.l.c. ADR (NYSE: BTI) has created a tobacco heater that produces fumes instead of smoke, reducing the potential harm from consumption. GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (NASDAQ: GWPH) has produced a liquid CBD product that is the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine of its type. Most telling of all, Philip Morris International, Inc. (NYSE: PM) has announced a long-term strategy to move away from smoking as the core delivery system for its products — a huge step for a global tobacco giant.
Money in Smoking
Smoking habits are currently undergoing significant changes. Increased awareness of the dangers of tobacco has led to a decrease in the popularity of cigarette smoking in many parts of the world. Meanwhile, the legalization of cannabis in a growing number of markets is turning marijuana smoking into big business, taking it out of the hands of criminals and attracting innovative pharmaceutical and bioscience companies.
But while the growth of the cannabis industry has been welcomed by many, it has raised the same concerns faced by the tobacco industry. Whether cannabis users are looking to benefit from its health-giving properties or to enjoy it as a recreational drug, people who smoke it are exposing themselves to similar risks as other smokers, including lung cancer. If the cannabis industry wants to keep growing and the tobacco industry wants to avoid collapse, both need to find new ways to deliver the benefits of their products while avoiding the proven risks of disease.
Alternatives to Smoking
Lexaria Bioscience Corp.’s (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) solution offers a viable alternative. Founded in its current form in 2014, Lexaria may seem like a relative newcomer, but its technology is already providing leaps forward. By focusing on delivery systems for existing compounds, including both nicotine and the active ingredients found in cannabis, the company is developing specialist solutions to serious health problems.
Lexaria’s main technology is DehydraTECH™. This provides an unusual means for helping the human body absorb beneficial substances and drugs, based on the recognition that many of these molecules are lipophilic, or fat soluble. By combining the drug molecules with fatty acids, DehydraTECH provides a new way for the drugs to enter the body.
Lipophilic compounds face a variety of challenges in entering the human body. Isolated from other flavors, they often taste and smell bad, making them off-putting to consume. Once they enter the body, human systems have trouble absorbing them. The compounds are vulnerable to destruction in the stomach and being filtered out by the liver. As a result, they have low bioavailability, or the extent to which they’re used by the body.
Smoking, vaping and large-dose consumption are all ways of getting around this problem. But DehydraTECH provides another way. It’s almost tasteless and odorless, making it palatable for edibles. Being combined with fatty acids makes it easier and faster for the body to aborb, with five to ten times greater absorption through the intestine.
Consumption of active compounds through DehydraTECH has two big advantages. First, the consumer avoids smoking and the damage and diseases to the lungs associated with that. Second, the increased and more rapid bioavailability means that a higher amount of the drug molecules are taken in. This reduces the amount people need to consume to gain the benefits, whether medical or recreational.
For consumers, DehydraTECH may represent a potential step towards a healthier lifestyle. And for investors, it’s a way to enter the tobacco and cannabis markets while avoiding the harm associated with those products — an opportunity to make money while maintaining a clean conscience and reputation.
Big News for Nicotine
Lexaria recently announced the results of its second in vivo study of 2018 evaluating the use of DehydraTECH as a nicotine delivery system. The results proved the delivery of more nicotine, more quickly, than the positive controls.
The study, which was carried out by a third-party laboratory, looked at the absorption of nicotine delivered in an edible form via DehydraTECH. It found that the method led to significantly greater absorption of nicotine: there was 90.2 percent greater absorption within the first 10 minutes using the DehydraTECH system instead of the tested control. Speed of absorption is one of the most important issues for non-inhalation forms of nicotine delivery, given the rapidity with which smoking gets the drug into the body, so this is a strong sign for the potential of DehydraTECH as a smoking alternative. Because it delivers the nicotine so quickly, Lexaria’s technology could open the door to entirely new forms of consumer products around the world.
Finding such an effective method for nicotine delivery may be a huge step forward. Despite the efforts of health professionals, there are currently 6 million deaths from the consequences of smoking reported around the world every year. That number is expected to hit 8 million by 2030. A system that delivers nicotine as quickly and effectively as smoking could be a huge boon for people looking to quit, allowing its producers to tap into a US $680 billion international market, excluding China.
Working with Cannabis
Nicotine isn’t the only drug with which Lexaria has experienced recent successes. It has also announced the results of a double-blind, randomized clinical study using DehydraTECH to make cannabidiol (CBD) bioavailable in human subjects, with considerable success.
Participants in the study took 90mg doses of Lexaria’s TurboCBD™ product. This contains cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis that doesn’t produce the mind-altering “high” properties of marijuana’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound. CBD in a specific form recently received FDA approval to treat certain forms of seizure disorders and is in widespread use in wellness products. TurboCBD is designed as a way to more quickly and effectively deliver CBD and its beneficial effects.
As in the nicotine study, Lexaria’s technology delivered the CBD more quickly and effectively than alternative delivery systems. Within 30 minutes, it had delivered over 300 percent more CBD into the bloodstream, and it continued to have a higher impact across a six-hour study.
The increasing legalization of cannabis and cannabis-derived medicine risks increasing the number of smokers in the world. Because smoking serves as an effective means for delivering medicinal chemicals into the bloodstream, it is appealing to users. But by providing an effective alternative for delivery, Lexaria is offering a possible method for users to benefit from CBD without suffering from smoking’s side effects.
Following the success of these two studies, Lexaria may be the only pure-play biotech public company option available for investors looking for opportunities to help reduce harm in both the tobacco and cannabis industries. It’s a significant possibility in a changing industry.
More Companies Exploring Alternatives to Smoking
With health concerns at the forefront of so many people’s minds, several companies are looking for smoke-free ways for their consumers to enjoy tobacco and cannabis.
One of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE: MO), is exploring ways to reduce the risk inherent in tobacco. The company has been working on modified risk tobacco products, a category of consumables that allows a company to claim its products are safer while selling them in the United States. In March, it submitted its latest application for one of these products to the FDA. The company has so far steered away from direct involvement in cannabis to avoid the federally banned drug’s range of legal and PR complications.
British American Tobacco Industries p.l.c. ADR (NYSE: BTI) is trying to make tobacco consumption healthier through the use of alternative delivery systems. Its glo products heat tobacco rather than burning it. The resulting vapor is approximately 90 to 95 percent less toxic than cigarette smoke, giving smokers a healthier way to satisfy their nicotine cravings. With its recent launch in Italy, glo is now available in seven countries.
On the cannabis side, GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (NASDAQ: GWPH) has recently received FDA approval for a CBD-based drug that will be America’s first plant-derived cannabinoid prescription medicine. Designed to tackle child-onset epilepsy, it makes CBD available as a medicine for children in need of its benefits and adds a CBD medicine to the market that doesn’t bring with it the dangers of smoking.
Even Philip Morris International, Inc. (NYSE: PM), one of the most evocative names in cigarette merchandising, is looking towards a smoke-free future. The company has made a strategic decision to move away from a reliance on smoking, finding ways to provide customers with the satisfaction of tobacco without the harm smoke brings. It’s a shift that could provide big opportunities for companies with smoke-free nicotine technology to license.
These Fortune-500 tobacco companies are faced with vital and dramatic threats to their traditional business model as smokers desperately search for less harmful alternatives to cigarettes and governments increasingly restrict access to cigarettes. In the past year alone, these companies have suffered billion-dollar losses in their market caps as consumer preferences shift. This is clearly a problem needing an immediate solution.
As hundreds of millions of people around the world maintain their smoking habits, the harmful effects on their health and their neighbors’ health continue to be a huge concern. Companies that can create safer alternatives could bring great benefits and enormous profits from such innovations.
For more information on Lexaria, please visit Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP)
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