The Next Generation of Cannabis Products Was Born in Israel

IMCI is to launch the next generation of medical cannabis products that will be accessible to the entire population. According to entrepreneurs Alon Hershkovitz and Avi Yakobovich, “Smoking cannabis is intimidating, our products will be more efficient and more patient friendly towards medical cannabis consumers.”

Einav Ben Yehuda, partnered with IMCI
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Alon Hershkovitz and Avi Yakobovich
Alon Hershkovitz and Avi Yakobovich
Einav Ben Yehuda, partnered with IMCI
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In recent years, more and more people are becoming aware of the different ways medical cannabis can be administered for various indications, e.g., chronic pain, post-trauma, nausea, vomiting, etc..

“The most common way to consume medical cannabis today is by smoking. In Israel, about 90% of cannabis consumption is by smoking, while only 10% use oil-based cannabis extracts,” explains Alon Hershkovitz, one of IMCI’s founders. “Many patients who use oils report an unpalatable taste. In addition, the absorption rate of cannabis’ active ingredients is low requiring administration of a higher dose, which can lead to an aggravation of patient side effects.”

Despite the increase in cannabis use to alleviate chronic pain – it is estimated that approximately 50%-70% of all medical cannabis users consume cannabis for pain alleviation – many patients refrain from consuming cannabis, due to the long-term side effects caused by smoking. Recently, the Israeli Ministry of Health issued a warning against smoking or vaping, citing their contribution to approximately 8,000 deaths in Israel annually.

A more efficient and friendly way to consume medical cannabis

Aside from the medical perspectives, Hershkovitz explains that smoking cannabis carries a problematic social stigma that prevents many populations from using the plant, which, in turn, unwillingly disrupts many users’ daily lives. “Imagine needing to smoke while you’re on public transportation, or in the middle of a meeting, or find yourself in some other public place.”

IMCI is on a mission to overcome these challenges by producing products that will deliver precise and effective doses together with an easy-to-use administration, suitable for any patient population at any time or place, and among other advantages will, save the consumer from having to spend on any additional accessories.

The company was established by entrepreneurs Alon Hershkovitz and Avi Yakobovich in 2018. Both with extensive entrepreneurial experience, having held senior management and financial positions in various private and public global companies. They first met after they both temporarily relocated to Africa for work.

“It all began with a random meeting in South Africa, during which Avi encountered a local healer who told him he used the cannabis plant to help patients, including acquaintances in Israel,” Yakobovich recounts. “I understood this substance to be capable of significantly helping people in need. At the time, I also connected to the healer’s view on a personal level. My father was treated for cancer and received medical cannabis to help alleviate his pain. My father, a heavy smoker, had no problem smoking cannabis. My mother, however, who also suffers from chronic pain, could not smoke cannabis. She even had trouble consuming the oil-based extract she was given, because of its foul taste. As a result, to this day, she continues to regularly take very strong painkillers.”

IMCI Pharmaceuticals in 2 minCredit: IMCI Pharmaceuticals

At the same time, the cannabis market was beginning to become more acceptable in various countries around the world, thanks to regulatory developments. “I realized there is a business opportunity, together with an opportunity to provide relief to millions of people around the world,” Yakobovich says. “I contacted Alon and proposed to establish a joint business in the field. He was extremely excited, and so we began our path towards a partnership.”

From cultivators to formulation experts

At first, Avi & Alon thought to establish a cannabis farm in Africa. “We knew that our experience and connections in Africa together with the continent’s relative advantages for agricultural cultivation would enable us to grow and market cannabis at competitive prices.” However, after some time, it became clear that it will take time to leverage the African advantages in competing with already existing entities. “We decided to use Israeli research and development experience to develop novel and innovative cannabis-based products that would improve patients’ health and their quality of life.”

Fast Dissolving Film, Long Acting Tablet and Immediate Release Capsule

The two collaborated with Israeli formulation experts, who helped them develop patent-based products that enable patients to consume medical cannabis in more efficient and user-friendly ways. The company developed three dosage forms providing different means of administering medical cannabis: 1. a fast dissolving thin film that dissolves in 60-90 seconds when placed under the tongue, thereby enabling quick relief for chronic pain patients (intended for bursting pain and for daily treatment); 2. a long acting muco-adhesive tablet that is placed inside the cheek, where it slowly releases the cannabinoids (the active ingredient in medical cannabis), over a course of 8 hours (intended for ongoing and overnight treatments); and 3. a capsule that can be swallowed and begins to take affect within 30-40 minutes.

“The advantages aren’t just in how these medical cannabis products are consumed, though the new methods of consumption make it easier for people who cannot smoke or tolerate oil-based products to use medical cannabis,” Alon says. “The technology behind these products enables the cannabis molecules to be absorbed into the blood circulation with greater efficiency, thereby enabling the patient to take smaller doses, minimize side effects, and comply with treatment protocols.”

The company is currently in the final stages of developing these products. “Initially we estimate that, over the course of the next year, we will begin our activities in Germany. This is because, we have regulatory permission to operate there,” they say. “We estimate that our Israel-based operations will kick off towards the end of next year. From a business perspective, we already have a full distribution network set up in these two countries.”

The company is preparing to expand its operations to Australia and the USA. “At the moment, we are focusing on patients suffering from chronic pain. Later, we will also direct our efforts towards other indications, as the field has many exciting development possibilities,” they agree.

Clarification: Cannabis is a dangerous narcotic. It is not approved for use as a medication, and its efficiency and safety for medical use have yet to be statistically proven through clinical trials. As such, this article should not be understood as a recommendation or encouragement to use cannabis. The article does not replace seeking out a medical opinion. Medical cannabis should only be used in accordance with an expert medical professional’s recommendation, and only medical cannabis products with appropriate Health Ministry licenses can be used, according to the law. This, after receiving adequate initial guidance on their use.

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