January 11, 2022

Expert Interview: Giorgio Ferdinandi, Chief Sales Officer, Linnea

5min read

Linnea’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people around the globe by manufacturing and distributing superior-quality purified and semi-synthetic APIs and standardized herbal extracts.

Giorgio Ferdinandi is the Chief Sales Officer and Chief Procurement Officer for Linnea.

Linnea has been proudly producing the finest quality botanical extracts for more than three decades, adding Linnea Cannabis Therapeutic Solutions,  in 2014 to meet increased market demand for high-quality cannabis extracts for therapeutic uses.

Linnea monitors its cannabis supply chain from seed to ingredient. That’s a rather large undertaking, which surely comes with a number of challenges?

It definitely is a large responsibility, but from the day the company was founded nearly 40 years ago, Linnea SA has always chosen to guarantee quality by constantly monitoring its supply chain, from seed to finished product.

We purchase raw materials from European farmers who adhere to Good Agriculture and Collecting Practices (GACP) and who are inspected regularly by our Quality Department and local authorities. Our suppliers have to guarantee the complete traceability of each seed as the plant is grown and harvested. Last but not least, we require that our cannabis farmers are suitably licensed to grow medical-grade plants, and the seeds used must be listed in the European Plant Variety Database. No exceptions. The selection of growers is fundamental to ensuring constant production (and thereby supply), especially for our CBD and CBG extracts.

The quality controls continue even in-house. In fact, end-to-end supply chain monitoring is so important to Linnea that we’ve obtained Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification from SwissMedic for our Swiss production facilities—an added guarantee for all our products, not just cannabis.

Has the cannabis market slowed at all in the last three years? What’s changed since Covid?

The cannabis industry is entirely unique and is constantly evolving. In the last three years, we’ve seen growth in the market for pharmaceutical products and food-grade supplements in countries whose regulations are aimed at the use of cannabis.

There is currently a lot of interest revolving around cannabis and Covid, in which the World Health Organisation’s data speaks loud and clear: more than 264 million people of all ages suffered from depression and related disorders in 2020.

There are a number of studies on this topic, but their findings are all relatively similar: cognitive impairment expanded across the board since lockdowns began, and at a worrying rate. A representative sample1 conducted in the United States before and during Covid-19 showed that depression symptoms were over three times more prevalent during the pandemic than before, and an early large retrospective cohort study based on the electronic health records of 69 million people (also in the US) showed that infection with Covid-19 indeed increased the risk of developing psychiatric sequelae, and psychiatric disorders, dementia, or insomnia. So, it seems that anxiety and depression are widespread knock-on effects of the pandemic, as Covid-19 negatively impacts mental health on two fronts: one tied to lockdowns and the other as a direct consequence of having had the virus.

Most of these studies reported good outcomes for CBD in the treatment of social anxiety disorder, short-to-medium-term effects for the symptomatic improvement of schizophrenia, and a lack of effect in the short-to-medium-term on cognitive functioning in psychotic disorders.

As a company that works with clients around the world, how does Linnea deal with national regulatory differences, especially when dealing with industries such as pharma, nutrition and cosmetics?

Linnea has decades of experience working with an international clientele, so flexibility is paramount to us. We often have to manage the laws and regulations of different States, and it’s a matter of staying one step ahead of and constantly keeping an eye on the legal situation.

Where do you currently see the biggest opportunities for cannabis-based products?

At present, we have customers in Latin America, Europe and Australia who have developed different pharmaceutical products for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain, anxiety and refractory epilepsy in children. We’re very proud of our ingredients and their possible uses. In the last 15 years, the number of clinical studies and trials that have given us a broad overview of the potential applications of CBD have increased exponentially.

From depression to different types of anxiety, now even more widespread due to Covid-19, the use of cannabis-derived products is proving to be important and supported by numerous scientific studies. CBD acts as a neuro-protector, and one study conducted by Linnea and an important European neurology institute produced optimal results, highlighting its potential in combating diseases like Parkinson’s.

In Europe, things are very fragmented, despite the WHO having published the CBD Critical Review Report in 2018, which stated that cannabidiol is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Moreover, in 2020, the United Nations recognised the therapeutic value of the plant, removing it from its strict list of dangerous and highly-addictive drugs.

The UN reclassification gave hope to producers and doctors that there might be new opportunities for research into therapies and cures for countless illnesses.

There’s a long road ahead of us, and Linnea will continue to apply its pharmaceutical experience to the production of high-quality cannabis-based extracts and pure powders destined to become part of products sold in the pharmaceutical, dietary and cosmetics industries. To us, creating a pharma-grade ingredient from cannabis means taking the enormous potential of the plant and placing it in the hands of our clients, so that they can create the life-changing pharmaceuticals of the future.

To find out more about Linnea, visit the company’s website here.

Linnea are Gold Sponsors of The Global Cannabis Report: Second Edition, which provides an overview of the development of cannabis markets at the international level, and considers how they might develop in the near future. It also covers some of the most interesting and pertinent global trends in the industry.


Expert Interview: Giorgio Ferdinandi, Chief Sales Officer, Linnea

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