Prague lab is certified ‘patient focused’

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A laboratory at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) in Prague has been approved under the U.S.-based Patient Focused Certification regime to study quality and compliance for medical cannabis.

The laboratory, led by Dr. Jana Hajšlová, Director of the Department of Food Chemistry and Analysis at the Institute, is the first to get PFC certification outside of the United States, where five PFC-certified labs already operate, said Steph Sherer of the PFC review board.

“It took us 11 years to put together the (PFC) program in the United States — and one year to implement it here,” Sherer said this week from the Czech Republic where she and a team from the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI), an affiliated group also based in Prague, announced the ICT laboratory’s certification.

The certification process at ICT “was a unique experience because we found nothing wrong with the laboratory, with no corrective action needed,” said Jahan Marcu, a senior researcher at Americans for Safe Access, under which the PFC standards were developed.

PFC aims to provide quality assurance by taking in needs of patients, caregivers and healthcare providers first. The non-profit, peer-reviewed, third-party certification regime verifies, for example, that any cannabis raw material going into medical use is free from contaminants such as pesticides, and generally provides consumers a way to recognize products that have been produced according to highest safety standards, Sherer said.

And she sees great potential to roll out the program around Europe. ICCI and PFC staged a seminar at the Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic directly on the heels of the ICT certification announcement, drawing cannabis experts from France, Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Germany.

“These are professionals who work in industry, and who’ll bring regulations and standards into the business,” Sherer said, noting some will be trained to be PFC auditors. She sees the initial impact of the PFC program in Europe as “starting conversations with departments or ministries of health and agriculture.”

“When we start that process with all the protocols in place it makes it easy for governments to adapt the program to their country markets,” she said. “In other words we’re helping ahead of time to knock down the bureaucratic roadblocks” to the wide acceptance of medical cannabis.

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