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Montu Newscorp Feature

Australian company Montu makes millions off medical cannabis

MELBOURNE, 04 November 2021 – Aussie medical cannabis prescriptions have seen a 10-fold increase — now one company is making a motza from it and wants investors to buy into it. 

Exclusive: More Australians are “coming out of the black market to the green market”, as legal medical cannabis prescriptions have seen a 10-fold increase.

New data from medical cannabis supplier Montu has revealed Sydney and Melbourne have had the highest uptake of medical cannabis products in the past year thanks to telehealth.

Montu’s figures show NSW accounts for the most prescriptions (38 per cent), followed by Queensland (27 per cent), Victoria (20 per cent), Western Australia (seven per cent), South Australia (four per cent), Tasmania (two per cent), and the ACT and Northern Territory (both one per cent).

Montu services more than 15,000 Australians every year, providing access to qualified doctors trained in prescribing medical cannabis, through its Alternaleaf platform.

These doctors are supported by a patient care team of clinically trained nurses, who guide patients through online bookings, telehealth consults, product selection and dispensing of medication.

Montu managing director Christopher Strauch said patients had embraced the company’s integrated platform which provides immediate access to qualified prescribers via telehealth.

“Prior to telehealth, our company was already a pioneer in helping patients gain easy access via a nationwide network of doctors that could service half a million Australians," he said. “With telehealth – we can now service every Australian."

Mr Strauch said stigma was a big problem for patients, and GPs’ experience was limited given that prescribing of medical cannabis is still in its early days.

“We have trained over 1000 Australian doctors on medical cannabis, and provided them with education and support. This has seen doctors become more confident prescribers” he said.

But Mr Strauch’s ambitions for Montu are far greater than just prescribing medical cannabis. He wants Australians to buy into his company which hopes to offer shares for around $250.

Montu is preparing to embark on its second round of capital raising through a crowd-funding campaign. It began an expressions of interest phase two weeks ago and expects to start a public sale this month.

Mr Strauch said the goal was to raise $4 million. He said Montu’s business has grown by 1000 per cent and reached a $10 million revenue run-rate.

Michelle Saul has battled chronic gastrointestinal issues for years. Sometimes her symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain, are so severe she cannot get out of bed.

About six years ago she had her gall bladder removed in the hope that it would provide some relief. Instead she had complications that resulted in 40kg of weight loss. Doctors and specialists prescribed medications, which provided little relief and more side effects.

“My quality of life has been zero,” she said.

Then the 40-year-old decided to research the use of medical cannabis, and decided to give it a go

“It was one of those, give it a go decisions, it can’t possibly hurt,” she said.

After consulting with a Montu doctor, Ms Saul was prescribed cannabis flower, which was less expensive than the oil. The relief was instant, she said.

And while it has not cured her condition – which remains under investigation by specialists – the cannabis has curbed the nausea, helped with her sleep and improved her appetite.

“I do have a better quality of life, I walk every day and I can get out and do some gardening,” she said. “It’s given me a little bit of optimism."

She has found the Montu model works well for her, as it allows her other doctors to link up electronically to maximise her holistic care.

“For me I would advocate giving it a try, especially if nothing else has worked,” Ms Saul said.

“It has worked for me and while there is still a long way to go, I am doing this under supervision."

In October last year, Montu raised $2 million through a crowd-funding campaign through Birchal – hitting its minimum target of $300,000 in the first 59 minutes, and set a record for hitting $1 million in 36 hours and 36 minutes.

“We’re already managing 15,000-plus patient consultations per year and prescribe 50,000-plus units of medical cannabis annually,” he said.

“Our company’s trajectory for growth is massive, with revenues growing more than 250 per cent last quarter alone."

The crowded medical cannabis market is expected to be worth $1.7 billion in market size by 2023.

Leading Australian researcher, professor of psychopharmacology and academic director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, Professor Iain McGregor, said people were becoming more aware they could legally access pharmaceutical-quality medical cannabis for around the same price as what’s on the illicit market.

“People are coming out of the back market to the green market,” he said

“We probably still have too many people who are self-prescribing outside the tent. An estimated 600,000 people in Australia are self-medicating with cannabis and now there are about 70,000 who are probably getting prescribed products.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in three to four years’ time that it’s a legitimate prescription medication available on the PBS."

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(behind paywall)

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