A unique nasal spray designed to combat epileptic seizures could be one of the first medicinal cannabis products to hit Australia's healthcare market.
Perth-based medical cannabis producer MGC Pharmaceuticals announced on Thursday it has struck a deal with Israeli company SipNose to use nasal spray to administer cannabis.
Sydney cardiologist and MGC director Dr Ross Walker says the product is ready to go once Australian regulatory hurdles are overcome.
Recent changes at a federal level permit legally-grown cannabis for medicinal cannabis products, but the drug remains a prohibited substance.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering downgrading it to a "controlled substance" class, which will place it alongside morphine.
Dr Walker said he was hopeful the government could fast track approval to help those suffering with epilepsy, cancer and chronic pain, but said it could be up to 18 months before prescriptions start to be filled.
"This is a proper effective way of delivering cannabis through the nose," Dr Walker said.
"The nasal delivery makes it quite user-friendly, especially for little children."
The NSW government is about to embark on its third - and biggest - clinical trial involving 330 cancer sufferers.
Previously in NSW, there have been trials involving the terminally ill and children with severe epilepsy.
In Victoria, a small group of children with severe epilepsy are involved in a separate clinical trial.
As for the efficacy of the treatment, Dr Walker pointed to two significant studies, of 137 and more than 220 respectively, which showed how epilepsy sufferers could benefit from medical cannabis.
"They have shown that there's anything from a 36 to 54 per cent reduction in seizure frequency," he said.
But people won't be getting high from using the treatment, as the medicine does not interact with brain receptors in the same way as illicit cannabis.
"The important thing is that we've got to get the message out that medical cannabis has nothing to do with people smoking stuff," Dr Walker said.
MGC will combine SipNose's system, which enables direct nose-to-brain delivery, with the cannabinoid compounds they produce.