New Delhi-based Hempstreet Medicare turned out to be a showstopper at the ongoing Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The reason–it claims to be “India’s first research to retail venture in the Ayurveda cannabis sector”.
The company, which has a manufacturing unit in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur, was incorporated in February 2019. Hempstreet goes by the slogan ‘Cannabis meets Ayurveda’.
It was after he co-founded another Ayurveda venture — Nirogstreet — in 2016 that he became aware of the everyday pain-points of Ayurveda doctors, said Shrey Jain, co-founder and COO of the company. Nirogstreet allowed for online bookings and appointments of Ayurveda products as well as online purchases of Ayurveda medicines.
“One of the most common pain-points of these Ayurveda doctors was the lack of a formulation to address chronic pain which is why they often had to resort to allopathy medicine. For example, for menstrual pain among women, they would end up prescribing painkillers for pain management. A woman approximately goes through 30 years of menstruation with approximately 360 menstrual cycles and they would end up consuming nearly 3-4 painkiller tablets per cycle. So this is an area we wanted to target,” says Jain.
Trailokya Vijaya Vati, the first cannabis Ayurveda product launched by Hempstreet, has seen a sale of about 3.6 million doses in the past 11 months, he says. The product focuses on managing chronic pain, especially menstrual pain. Each 125 mg tablet contains 62.5 mg of cannabis.
Currently, the company has three products. Jain says the process is ongoing for the publication of research papers on clinical data from the products.
All three products contain cannabis sativa, commonly known as ‘bhang’, which is listed under the ‘List of poisonous substances under the Ayurvedic (including Siddha) and Unani Systems of Medicine’.
This means that they are Schedule E(1) drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, which states that the purchase of raw material requires an excise licence for its manufacturing unit, apart from the usual Ayush manufacturing licence for the sale of any Ayush product and GMP certification. With the licence, the raw material is allocated by the state excise department.
Development of the Ayurveda formulation was in-house, working with Ayurveda doctors and formulation scientists as well as consultants through CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) at Jammu where Hempstreet is incubated.
As Jain points out, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, along with NDPS Act, provisions for the sale of cannabis to medical practitioners. This also means Hempstreet is not authorised to sell directly to consumers and hence, runs on a B2B model where the company sells only to registered Ayurveda practitioners on its network who in turn can prescribe the products to patients consulting them. The company has nearly 9,100 Ayurveda practitioners across 24 states, according to Jain.
With a team of around 70 members, Hempstreet markets its products mostly word-of-mouth through the Ayurveda practitioners on its network.
Jain shares the company set up a blockchain framework six to eight months ago to track its supply chain so as to eliminate pilferage. Seeing the opioid crisis in US, he adds, Hempstreet “preemptively identified a few problems and rectified them.”
“The manufacturing unit had an existing excise licence from the UP government and we have basically rented out the facility. It is something similar to exclusive contract manufacturing,” Jain says.