In this weeks podcast we are joined by Clare Barker, General Manager of Entoura. Entoura is active in the Australian medical cannabis industry, supporting medicinal cannabis research, education, manufacturing – and above all, helping facilitate patient access.
1:43 – Clare Barker is the general manager of Entoura, and has a lot of experience relevant to the Australian medical cannabis industry. After completing her education, she ended up in CSO, a pharmaceutical company. She was a part of their influenza vaccine promotion and believes that this experience contributed a lot later in her life.
2:47 – Clare explained that she worked a lot on pandemic planning in her previous job. She worked with the US government through swine flow rollout where she was responsible for pandemic stockpiles, staff engagement plan and emergency hotline management.
3:52 – Clare believed that while she was working with the government, she had an amazing experience. After her retirement and career break, she joined TSA where quite hectic responsibilities were conferred upon her.
4:53 – After leaving work at TSA, Clare took a gap of around 2 years, she got the opportunity to work with Nutrition Care as their business manager, in charge of their manufacturing process for vitamins and mineral probiotics. She went to a business silo in September 2016 at the time when medicinal CBD was being legalised in Australia and realised the huge potential of this domain. Clara became business development manager for Nutrition care and tried to get Nutrition Care into medicinal cannabis however, she found out that it was much better to indulge in this venture as a separate company working under the parent company. An agreement was reached where the formulation development, clinical trial element, the education element and maintaining doctor patient confidentiality was the responsibility of Nutrition Care while Entoura was in charge for purchase of material, growing and cultivation of cannabis. Their first product reached to market in August 2019.
8:14 – Clare said that although people were usually surprised she chose complementary medicine side to pursue her career, she has always believed strongly in plant based medicines and natural therapies. Her belief was strengthened when she decided to visit an integrated doctor to sort out her insomnia issue. She prescribed medicinal cannabis and CBD which, contrary to her expectations, worked exceptionally well for her.
12:03 – Clare described her struggle with sleep apnea even with CBD. However, she was of the view that drugs might not help directly in sleep related issues but could definitely help human body to maintain its natural balance.
13:31 – Clare iterated that Sunday night was particularly worst for her due to her work anxiety. At that time, Formula One car race helped her a lot.
15:17 – Clare depicted that she had an interesting journey in educating doctors on the topic of medicinal cannabis. Since it was unapproved medicine, therefore, not only that there was no advertisement, but it was a bit of conundrum as well to talk to doctors. She illustrated that she had to go through whole adoption curve to educate them. She spelled out that contrary to popular belief, elder doctors were much more eager than the younger ones as they wanted to improve the quality of life of their patients. She threw light on various methodologies of this education technique and believed that she was successful only due to her habit of finding the source of a problem and then delving into the appropriate medicinal use. She also explained the relevant authorised prescription process with the help of which doctors would not require TGA approval for any prescriptions provided certain conditions were met. Thus, the access to medicinal cannabis could be enhanced significantly. She clarified that she felt proud of being a part of first RICGP accredited 2 days program designed to educate doctors by involving independent bodies.
22:48 – Clare indicated that doctors required clinical justifications for medicinal cannabis prescriptions. She iterated that she had worked with the first GP who could prescribe plant-based medicines after getting approval from TGA. She delved into her experience as an in-charge of quality approval committee and pointed out that she has actually hosted more TGA audits than anyone in the country.
24:36 – Clare was of the view that she actually understands what TGA wants from regulatory and clinical perspectives. She explained that regularly conducted webinars for providing notes on clinical justifications of medicinal cannabis.
26:12 – Clare clarified that although medicinal cannabis is not a part of the first-line of therapies against any disease, however, it is not necessarily the last choice available. It is actually a risk-based approach which depends largely upon the justification of doctor and choice of patients.
27:51 – Clare depicted that she would be talking at Addiction Australia conference regarding the complex procedure involving Australian medical cannabis. She asserted that opioids were not effective for chronic pain management and medicinal cannabis is the only long-term solution.
29:37 – Clare was happy to report many positive stories from patients. According to her, the best thing about medicinal cannabis is that it complements the body and aids in stabilising it. Thus, the holistic approach of medicinal cannabis does not make the pain disappear but aids in making it manageable so as to enhance the quality of life.
32:37 – In response to a question related to recruitment, she said that she prioritised positive attitude, motivation and flexibility of employees.
35:09 – Clare clarified that since it was a diverse field, her first recruitment priority was not therapeutic understanding but attitude and ability to talk about medicinal cannabis in a positive manner.
38:31 – Clare shared that she had an interesting career trajectory in this field.
40:07 – Clare shed light on her non-discriminatory attitude by asserting that she was more concerned about character, background and professional ethics of her team members than their possibly shady past.
44:56 – In response to the inquiry relevant to legalisation of recreational use and timeline for recreational products, she believed that it could take up to 5 years due to the growing patient population and patient pull in Australia.
46:23 – She believed that THC would also take similar time period as CBD.
47:47 – She shared with audience that she had written papers on the regulation of cannabis in between complementary medicinal and pharmaceutical space. She disapproved of TGA’s Australian medical cannabis sector unnecessary delay in legalisation. She thought that her first and foremost concerns were about quality of healthcare, therefore, she views cannabis as mandatory to satisfy the nutritional requirements.