The product came from the mind of Michael Frid, an MIT graduate and the company’s co-founder. Dr. Ken Miller, who had worked on transdermal patches for pharmaceutical company Mylan, has since joined the company as a scientific advisor to develop the next generation of the skin patch technology.
DeMena said the patch allows users a steady dose of cannabinoids, which are chemicals found in the marijuana plant that are often used for therapeutic purposes.
Yet Manna doesn’t actually touch the cannabis plant. Instead, the company licenses its technology and patch construction kits to cannabis dispensaries to produce the patches, allowing the Massachusetts-based company the ability to deploy its technology across state lines, and to dispensaries that have already gone through each state’s licensing process.
Producing a line of cannabis condoms and other products like cannabis tampons will use the same base technology that allows cannabis to be absorbed through the skin, but the manufacturing of the product could prove to be more difficult, DeMena said. Instead of developing a manufacturing process that can be sent to each dispensary, the company is looking to partner with existing condom and tampon manufacturers.
“We’re good at understanding the science, but we haven’t manufactured condoms or tampons,” DeMena said. “There are people better at that than us. We’d like to find them, work with them and license the technology.”
While not overseen or validated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, because of the federal illegality of cannabis, DeMena said the company is doing its own small studies to understand the science behind their products, and it has hired people well versed in clinical trials to bring best practices to the company.
Even without traditional scientific backing, DeMena said the company has attracted the attention of pharmaceutical companies.
“We’ve been approached by pharma companies and people in the space,” DeMena said. “We know they are interested and have money to help us fund the trials. They need to see baseline things about product performance from us and we’re trying to give them a platform to invest in more applications.”