POPPY TRIALS MAKING POSITIVE PROGRESS

Victoria is one step closer to commercial poppy growing, with scientific trials undertaken by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia progressing positively.

Victoria is one step closer to commercial poppy growing, with scientific trials undertaken by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Australia progressing positively.

World demand for medicinal alkaloid (opiate) derived from poppies, and used in the manufacture of pain relieving medicines, is high. Commercial poppy production currently only takes place in Tasmania, under strict Tasmanian Government regulation. Tasmanian grown poppies supply nearly 50% of the world's requirements.

The Victorian trials began in July this year, following approval granted by the Victorian Government. They involve small plots being grown in different areas of the state. Harvest is due to be completed by the end of January, when assessment of the trials will take place.

GSK Opiates Division General Manager Steve Morris said the crops were growing well and looking good, although it was still early days. “We don’t know the outcome of the trials as yet but we’re confident the results will be positive.”

He said information from the trials would be used to evaluate the potential to grow poppies on a commercial scale in Victoria.

GSK is working closely with the Victorian Government to ensure it has all the necessary information to consider and establish a regulatory framework to allow commercial poppy production in Victoria. Legislation is expected to go before Parliament over the coming months.

GSK pioneered the medicinal poppy industry in Australia nearly 50 years ago when it commenced the cultivation of poppies in Tasmania. “The Tasmanian poppy industry is a strong one. We view Victoria as supplementing Tasmanian supply, not replacing it,” Mr Morris said.

“GSK will continue to invest in Tasmania and consolidate our presence there. Exploring Victorian production will ensure we can meet the growing demands of our customers and spreads geographic risk of supply. However, all rests on successful results from the Victorian trials,” he said.

GlaxoSmithKline is a global research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company with a mission to improve the quality of human life. In Australia we have delivered the highest quality medicines, vaccines and over-the-counter healthcare products since 1886. We contribute to Australia’s economy through new approaches to agriculture and manufacturing, and by investing in local research and development. For more information visit www.gsk.com.au

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Contact

Media release issued by Currie Communications on behalf of GSK.

For more information contact: Susan McNair, 0439 389 202 or susan@curriecommunications.com.au