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Helius appoints Chief Quality Officer, extending GMP expertise

New Zealand's leading medicinal cannabis firm, Helius Therapeutics has appointed Bruce Wallace as its Chief Quality Officer.

Bruce Wallace, Chief Quality Officer of Helius Therapeutics

Starting this month, Bruce Wallace joins Helius as the company's Chief Quality Officer. His previous role was with contract medicines manufacturer, Argenta, where he was Global Head of Quality, with responsibility for quality and GMP compliance at the firm's United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand sites.

The executive appointment sees Mr Wallace as a key part of the Helius leadership team, says Paul Manning, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Helius Therapeutics.

“We’re delighted to have Bruce join our executive team as we move towards commercial medicines manufacturing. With a strong background in both human and animal health, he brings extraordinary expertise in GMP and the quality systems necessary for pharmaceutical production,” says Mr Manning.

Recently Helius announced it has raised a further $20m from private investors, with the Kiwi-owned company achieving a market capitalisation of $105m. Well-placed to develop a new generation of novel medicinal cannabis products, the additional funding will also enable Helius to conduct the first clinical trials in New Zealand with Kiwi patients.

Compound testing in the Helius analytical laboratory

Mr Wallace started his career in pharmaceutical manufacturing in the United States in 1999 with the production of vaccines to prevent pneumonia in humans. He then moved to Quality Assurance, managing the safety and efficacy of vaccines as well as compliance with US and international GMP regulations. He was also part of a clinical quality group approving products to be used in human clinical trials.

Immigrating to New Zealand, he was appointed by Argenta in 2009. For over a decade he had responsibility for managing the company’s quality systems and R&D compliance. As Agenta’s New Zealand Head of Quality, then Global Head of Quality he hosted numerous inspections from regulatory agencies including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When Parliament started considering a medicinal cannabis industry for New Zealand, his interest was immediately piqued. He was excited by the prospect of cannabis being brought out of the shadows and into a high-quality medicines’ framework.

“I love the idea of taking a plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of conditions and doing all the required science. The significant investment by Helius into clinical studies is exactly what’s needed to give doctors confidence to prescribe and patients the confidence that cannabis-based medicines are safe and effective,” he says.

An analytical chemist inspects a high-THC cannabis flower at Helius

Mr Wallace believes Helius’ state-of-the-art Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility is ideally suited for developing and producing innovative medicinal cannabis products of the highest quality. The company’s sprawling East Tamaki site will oversee cannabis extraction, processing and packaging.

“As the country’s largest licensed biotechnology company focused on medicinal cannabis, we’ve pulled together world-class talent and we have a clear vision. Helius is in the strongest position to invest heavily to improve the quality of life for patients and solve big health problems,” says Mr Manning.

“This appointment is another important demonstration of our commitment to producing consistent, quality medicinal cannabis for patients here and in global markets,” he says.

Helius is also the foundation sponsor of New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis conference, MedCan Summit 2020, coming up next month on 18-19 March at SkyCity.

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