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New phase for Helius as David Darling joins board

David Darling has been appointed as an independent director on the board at Helius Therapeutics – New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company.

Mr Darling has had an extensive career working on the development, growth and international commercialisation of life sciences and biotechnology products businesses.

“Helius is at the forefront of tomorrow’s plant-based medicines. Globally, there is a significant movement towards naturally derived medicines, with the pain management capabilities of cannabinoids now well established internationally. It’s an incredibly exciting and fast-growing industry, with Helius already delivering,” says Mr Darling.

Following a career with Fletcher Challenge, he has been Chief Executive of Pacific Edge for 19 years - a NZX50 business focused on commercialising its bladder cancer diagnostics tests in global markets.

Mr Darling led the Pacific Edge team to develop a suite of proprietary molecular diagnostic tests and built active commercial businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the US. The company is now listed on both the NZX and ASX and is included in the S&P NZX50 Index.

“With Helius now in its commercialisation phase and about to unleash its export strategy, David’s arrival is very good timing given our planned growth. He brings a comprehensive set of skills and global experiences that will support our team to develop new products and enter new markets,”says Carmen Doran, Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

In mid-2021 Helius became New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to gain a GMP Licence to Manufacture Medicines. Then in October last year the Medicinal Cannabis Agency announced that two new local medicinal cannabis products had met the minimum quality standard for commercial sale and use. Recently, Helius announced New Zealand’s largest cannabis supply agreement with South Island-based organic cultivator, Puro.

Holding prime mover advantage, Helius has invested in building a world-class team with skills from plant culture to pharmaceutical development and commercialisation.

The 100% Kiwi-owned private company has a state-of-the-art 8,800sqm medicines manufacturing and indoor cannabis cultivation complex in East Auckland. Helius is focused on commercialising its pipeline of medicines, creating efficacious, novel and safe next-generation medicinal cannabis therapeutics.

Mr Darling says he’s excited to join the board as Helius drives its innovation and commercialisation journey, and significantly scales up for growth in under-served international markets.

“Helius is a trailblazer and leader in New Zealand’s newest industry. The company continues to successfully meet all the unique demands and challenges that come with the transition from a start-up business to one of early-stage growth.
“I’m impressed by Helius’ investors, board members, management, and staff. The company has an absolute focus on its founding motivation - to improve patients’ quality of life with locally produced plant-based medicines at more affordable prices,” says David Darling.

Carmen Doran says investing heavily in a world-class team, production, and manufacturing facilities means Helius is well geared for an expansive and global future.

“David’s arrival represents an exciting time in our business as we begin to execute our international growth phase. Curiosity and diversity of thought at all levels of the business will continue to help Helius provide the most innovative, natural healthcare solutions for patients here and abroad,” says Ms Doran.

David Darling replaces Helius founder, JP Schmidt, who is stepping down after five years in the business, remaining one of the cornerstone investors.

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