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Novartis unit partners with Canadian company to distribute medical cannabis

Novartis AG's generics unit agreed to partner with privately held Tilray Inc. to develop and distribute medical cannabis products in Canada.

The Swiss pharma company's Sandoz Canada Inc. unit entered a binding letter of intent to co-market cannabis products that are non-smokable and non-combustible. The exclusive partnership also covers the development of new products of the sort.

Sandoz Canada is a unit of Sandoz International GmbH, Novartis' generics business.

While financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, a Tilray spokesperson told Canada's Financial Post that Sandoz has not taken a financial stake in the Nanaimo, British Columbia-based cannabis producer.

Sandoz also agreed to wholesale and distribute the covered products to hospitals and pharmacies, subject to future regulatory changes. Under current Canadian law, Tilray and other cannabis producers can only mail their products directly to patients.

"To have the Sandoz logo co-branded on some of our products will help establish trust with patients and pharmacists and physicians," Tilray President Brendan Kennedy told the Financial Post.