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Canopy Animal Health Continues CBD Product Development

Canopy Animal Health Continues CBD Product Development
Atticus, a St. Bernard, gets a check-up as part of the CBD oil clinical trial at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. He is pictured with Dr. McGrath and Breonna Thomas, clinical trials coordinator. Photo: John Eisele/CSU Photography

Canopy Animal Health, a division of Canopy Growth Corporation, plans to launch the most scientifically sound companion animal cannabidiol (CBD) products available in 2020. Canopy Animal Health will initially offer non-prescription CBD products but is developing a line of prescription products.

The company’s ongoing research, in collaboration with universities and industry, is investigating the potential benefits of CBD in treating pets experiencing situational anxiety, chemotherapy side effects, epilepsy, joint pain and inflammation, as well as other disorders.

Canopy Animal Health expects to achieve the first comprehensive understanding of cannabinoid safety for pets through their ongoing acute and chronic escalating dose trials. For more than three years, the company has been actively studying the clinical effects of CBD to identify evidence-backed solutions that may ultimately enhance the health and wellbeing of pets.

“Canopy Animal Health has been focused on conducting research that will allow us to develop science-based canine and feline CBD products that address some of the health conditions veterinarians and pet owners are most concerned about,” said Robert Menardi, DVM, director of veterinary educational and technical services at Canopy Animal Health. “We are leveraging critical research partnerships with academia and relationships with industry experts to become the most trusted source on CBD science.”

With 22 studies either completed or underway, Canopy Animal Health is the global leader in veterinary cannabis research. The company is sponsoring research at Colorado State University led by Stephanie McGrath, DVM, MS, a veterinary neurologist who is a leading researcher in the pet cannabinoid field. She is currently conducting four preliminary studies with support from Canopy Animal Health, to begin exploring the potential use of CBD to mitigate the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs and to investigate whether CBD might be safely used in cats.

We reached out to get some insight on what the current studies are. McGrath says, “We are conducting three preliminary studies that Canopy Animal Health is sponsoring at CSU: 1. a pharmacokinetic, safety, and drug-drug interaction study. We are specifically evaluating the pharmacokinetic profile and safety of a CBD product produced by Canopy Animal Health for pets, in addition to assessing the effect of combined therapy with a common antiepileptic drugs in veterinary medicine, phenobarbital; 2. a single-dose pharmacokinetic study in cats with a CBD product provided by Canopy Animal Health; 3. a combined study: a dose-finding epilepsy clinical trial and long term safety of CBD in epileptic dogs. For the first part of this study, we are enrolling client-owned dogs with idiopathic epilepsy with the goal of identifying a maximally effective dose of CBD. And for the second part of the study, we will administer CBD for a long period of time to evaluate its safety profile.”

Epilepsy in companion animals is a distressing disorder for everyone involved. When asked what was at stake for canine epilepsy, McGrath answered, “Affecting approximately 5% of the canine population, idiopathic epilepsy is a widespread disease that is often frustrating and, at times, devastating to both dogs and their owners. About one-third of dogs afflicted with epilepsy are refractory to the standard drugs available to treat the disease. Therefore, finding a replacement or adjunctive medication is imperative. The research we are conducting to understand the potential synergies between CBD and other drugs used to treat epilepsy could be groundbreaking for the field of veterinary medicine,” said McGrath.

These current studies were brought about by promising results found in McGrath’s 2019 research. She had performed and published a pilot study evaluating the effect of CBD on seizure frequency in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. “In this study, 16 client-owned dogs with uncontrolled epilepsy (≥2 seizures/month) despite receiving standard AED therapy were randomly assigned to either the treatment group (n=9) or the control group (n=7). The dogs in the treatment group received 2.5 mg/kg CBD oil PO BID and the dogs in the control group received the same volume of a placebo. The dogs received the medication for a total of 12 weeks. The average monthly seizure frequency was compared to baseline. The median reduction in seizure frequency in the treatment group was 43% compared to 0% for the control group (p=0.012). However, when the number of responders (defined as ≥50% reduction in average seizure activity) were compared between the groups, there was not a significant difference (22% responders in the treatment group; 29% in the control group). Although this is promising data, we need larger studies in order to better understand the potential effect of CBD on seizure frequency.

Dana Vaughn, Ph.D., a pharmacologist with more than 30 years of academic and industry experience, leads Canopy Animal Health’s global research and development team.

“We are committed to the idea that any product must be supported by thorough research before it ends up in the hands of pet owners,” said Vaughn. “To ensure safety and the optimum benefit to our pets, it’s necessary to perform scientifically valid CBD studies in several formulations and at multiple doses, which Canopy Animal Health is doing and supporting at places like CSU. It is just not enough to look at a single dose without rigorous controls.” McGrath shares that the pharmacokinetic safety studies are expected to be completed in 2020 and the epilepsy long-term safety study within two years.

One recent randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled safety study funded by Canopy Animal Health showed the degree to which dogs tolerate three cannabinoid formulations administered in oil — one containing predominantly CBD, a non-intoxicating ingredient; one containing THC; and one containing a combination of CBD and THC — versus placebo in dogs.

The company has submitted the study to a top-tier, peer-reviewed journal for publication. The results support the company’s plan to continue research on the potential therapeutic uses of orally delivered CBD in canines.