This blog post is the seventh in a series of posts from Dr. Kamal Morar, co-founder of Duber Medical and interventional pain specialist. In this series, Dr. Morar examines current day hurdles and solutions that medical marijuana can offer patients as they seek alternative and effective solutions to their chronic medical conditions.
In the last blog post, we talked about the state of current medical marijuana products and some of the hurdles patients have when trying to determine what is best to treat their medical condition and symptoms. So what would we like these products to look like and what will it take to get there? Currently, Over the Counter products can be differentiated in a number of ways, including quality, style, convenience, brand recognition and price. For Medical Marijuana to win in terms of a long term alternative for real patients with real problems, it will have to be able to compete on specific attributes for symptom relief, much like OTC products do today. Some of the major points that will set products apart will be:
Disease and Symptom Specific Formulas
Formulas with brand names describing the problem targeted for the patient will have to dominate the market place. Simply relying on patients to visit dispensaries and hope that they will have access to products that work for them is, at best, a shot in the dark. Moreover, it can become a dangerous proposition for some patients who unknowingly may end up consuming products with resultant unwanted side effects. We would never consider such an approach for seemingly more benign OTC products currently on the market so why should Medical Marijuana be any different?
Reputable and Trustworthy Brands
Building a trustworthy brand in this space needs to start with physicians. Any company that can mobilize a large trustworthy group of physician advocates will stand to to be in a position of authority and legitimacy when gaining patient trust. Most patients seeking Medical Marijuana are scared and nervous about this product given its long history of being illegal. There is continued guardedness about its safety. Simply flipping the switch from illegal to legal will not ease these tensions. Instead, bridges built on physician guidance and recommendations will have to be built. Moreover, there needs to be more physician engagement. Physician groups and companies that can mobilize and educate physicians in the short run will have a leg up. This will mean a strategy based on easy access to patients for physicians interested in treating with Medical Marijuana. There is no residency or specialty offered in Medical Marijuana and therefore, “practice bridges” via telemedicine platforms allowing physicians to practice part-time will have to be created where physicians can transition into the industry has it continues to develop in the short run.
Precision Therapy Based On Best Available Research
As health care moves from intuitive and empirical medicine to more precision medicine, companies dedicated to gathering and publishing the best available research in this space will be sought after. This will require large patient volumes and efficient data bases from which reliable data can be pulled in the short-run. In this day and age, this would invariably have to mean the use of an on-line patient platform type resource where there is perpetual generation of data primarily driven by known patients willing to share.
Foster and Promote a New Community
Lastly, companies dedicated to providing community engagement where one patient stands to learn from another will be in a position to advance the industry for additional patients. To accomplish this, a dedicated on-line platform with content created primarily by reputable patients and physicians will need to be in place and where a “network effect” of sorts can be created as each new active user has to the potential to bring others to the network.