Major Engine of Growth in the Cannabis Industry: State of the Art Formulation Technology for Product Innovation and Expanded Applications

November 12, 2018
Abstract / Synopsis: 

Formulation technologies provide a powerful tool in product innovation and new applications especially for purified and highly concentrated extracts including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Fortunately, the cannabis industry can choose from formulation technologies and ingredients that have a record of use in pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, dietary supplements, personal care, and veterinary and pet food products. This article aims to assist in making choices that support safety, efficacy, stability, and consumer acceptance.

New, innovative products and applications have been a major driver of growth of the cannabis industry. The range and number of new products is breathtaking and spans pharmaceuticals, food and dietary supplements, topical and personal care, and veterinary and pet food. It includes product formats ranging from prescription pharmaceutical formulations to capsules, chewable tablets, nutrition bars, gummies, drops, bottled water, beverages and sports drinks, creams, lotions, sprays, inhalation and vapor products, and pet snacks and treats.

In a significant milestone, in June 2018 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug Epidiolex (GW Pharmaceuticals), which is an oral solution of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified drug substance derived from cannabis—in a strong pipeline of development and clinical testing.

Purified and concentrated cannabis extracts are powerful tools in product innovation. For medical applications, they allow the identification of the active ingredients, clinical testing for FDA approval and claims, and products that have defined potency and can be tested with established scientific methods for meeting specifications with consistency and stability. The same reasons increasingly apply to dietary supplements, beverages and sports drinks, and other applications. The use of purified and concentrated extracts also allows for the use of smaller amounts, which has significant benefits for taste, odor, color, or capsule and tablet size for oral supplements. The use of purified and concentrate extracts also facilitates accurate testing using smaller sample size.

Why Formulation: The Top Reasons

Formulation is key to new innovative products and applications for the following reasons:

  • Solubility in water
  • Increased absorption and bioavailability
  • Improved stability
  • Taste, odor and other characteristics
  • Regulatory

Let’s take a closer look at each reason.

Solubility in Water

Upon extraction and purification, important cannabinoids such as CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) come out as oils that are practically insoluble in water. For many products and applications such as beverages, medical formulations, sprays, topical formulations, and others, solubility in water is a must.

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Andreas M. Papas, PhD, is CEO and member of the Board of Directors of Antares Health Products, Inc., and an Adjunct Professor of Health Sciences of East Tennessee State University. A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Papas is a graduate of the University of Illinois and author of The Vitamin E Factor paperback and editor of the scientific book Antioxidant Status, Diet, Nutrition and Health. Dr Papas also founded YASOO Health Inc., and led the company as President and Chair of the Board of Directors. He developed product concepts and managed successful commercialization including formulation, clinical evaluation supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, stability and safety testing, as well as pilot and commercial production and marketing. These disease specific nutritional products are considered the standard of nutritional care in cystic fibrosis, liver disease, and bariatric patients. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]

How to Cite This Article

A.M. Papas, Cannabis Science and Technology 1(4), 56-59 (2018).