Expert in clinical trials, regulatory, and cannabis joins NPC Board

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January 7, 2020

In December 2019, Najla Guthrie, president and CEO of KGK Science joined NPC’s Board of Directors. Guthrie is excited about the potential of cannabis-based natural health products to promote health. But she’d like to see Canada’s emerging cannabis industry develop more smartly than the evolution of the natural products industry. We spoke with her recently about why she wants to serve on the board, the potential for research to impact health, and more.

NPC: Why did you join NPC’s board?

NG: For more than 23 years I’ve been advocating for the natural health products industry, for its responsible change, our products and their impact on human health. In addition, I’ve acquired a vast amount of knowledge about the cannabis research sector working with our parent company Auxly Cannabis Group. I have a lot of experience and expertise that can help the Board with its initiatives around NHPs, to help where we need to go as an industry.

NPC: How do you feel about the potential health benefits cannabis-based products?

NG: I had lunch with a doctor recently who was very excited about cannabis products and their potential. And it applies to a broad range of demographics. There are many elderly people looking for cannabis products to mitigate their pain, help them sleep and relieve anxiety. There’s an opportunity to look at combinations of natural health products and develop a vast number of new products that can have a huge impact.

For me as a scientist, it’s been a long time since I’ve been really excited about a class of products such as cannabinoids—naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis often referred to as CBDs—and the science and potential they hold for consumers and human health going forward.

NPC: What are the similarities between cannabis-based products and health and nutrition products

NG:  The natural health products industry started a few decades ago as a cottage industry and, today, it’s worth $40-billion in the US. I see the cannabis industry as very similar. Cannabis has been legal in Canada for a little over a year, while in the US it’s state by state. But despite that, there are already 1,500 CBD products in the American market. Cannabis is an industry being driven by consumers who are very interested in what’s being offered and the impacts on human health. This is a chance for us to learn from the mistakes we made in the past on the natural products side and avoid some of the pitfalls.

Because we’re one of the first countries to legalize cannabis and to put a regulatory framework around it, Canada is being watched by the world. We have an opportunity to be a global leader, so we need to get it right.

NPC: Do you have any cautions?

NG: I do and it ties into doing things right. There’s been a lot of hype around cannabis-based products and a lot of capital has been raised because of it. It’s now time to walk the talk and do what’s required to get good, safe and efficacious products to the market, into the hands of consumers.

NPC: From your perspective working with NPC’s Board and Canadian products and solutions, how optimistic are you for other Canadians in the health products industry?

NG: I’m very optimistic. We’ve got a lot to offer here in Canada for research and development or innovation because we’ve got many capable institutions and a lot of talent. At KGK Science, the majority of business comes from the US and internationally, from Europe and Asia. Our clients recognize the Canadian advantage; that’s why it’s important that an entity like NPC exists to keep identifying and supporting these national strengths. On the research front, I think we’re very well positioned and have much to offer. I think it’s how we market and educate potential clients about why they should come here and work with us.

 

 

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