The rapid expansion of the cannabis industry has offered patients throughout the U.S. a ray of hope when it comes to treating a variety of conditions that medical marijuana (MMJ) is increasingly understood to be effective for. However, exorbitant costs for MMJ patients, associated with registration fees and other price pressures put on producers and distributors, have made MMJ treatments inaccessible to a sizeable portion of the market. This is why Novus Acquisition & Development Corp. (OTC: NDEV), created their innovative Novus MedPlan program, which offers MMJ patients a considerable discount on medicinals, as well as holistic and alternative medicines, using an exclusive provider network cost-savings model to grant members direct and easy access to the nearest providers in their state.

Milestones & Momentum Heading Into 2015

The Novus MedPlan has been attracting interest from providers, producers, dispensaries and consumers alike, as the company has something of a first-mover advantage in the space, providing MMJ and wellness patients with a cost-saving insurance like plan which covers products and services not addressed by standard healthcare programs. The ability to save 20% to 50% on a variety of solutions like doctor consultations, alternative medication and medical marijuana, all at a low subscriber cost of only $19.95 per month, as well as the ease of being able to sign up online, has helped created consumer interest and signups.

The response to Novus MedPlan has been so good in fact that Novus has tasked PR Revolution with rebranding the current Novus Medical Group website to better serve the growing network. This new website will offer Novus MedPlan participants the ability to easily connect with providers, giving them geographical and other information needed to facilitate business. With the software platform in the works and expectations running high at Novus that it will be ready to go by January, around the same time the company moves to up-list to the OTCQB, Novus Acquisition & Development looks forward to 2015.

Novus MedPlan Retains PR Revolution for Insurance Marketing

There is a growing beacon of hope on the horizon for MMJ patients though in the form of a revolutionary health and wellness savings plan targeting both the MMJ sector and related CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) space. Developed by Novus Medical Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Novus Acquisition & Development Corp., the Novus MedPlan’s innovative provider network model has already made substantial progress since its inception. Novus MedPlan is growing rapidly in the vacuum created by a lack of initiative from big, established insurance companies, who have been loath to wade into murky waters created by indeterminate federal stances on marijuana. Novus MedPlan has grown alongside the expansion of the broader legal cannabis industry itself, which could swell to as much as $21B to $35B by 2020, according to a recent report from industry research and advisory firm GreenWave.

In states where MMJ is already legal, the Novus MedPlan has been advancing since enrollment began back in October. The recent announcement that they have completed their strategic network provider outreach in Arizona, handily exceeding enrollment expectations with the help of an experienced PR agency, PR Revolution, is but the latest example of the company’s forward momentum. Novus has tapped PR Revolution to act as their public relations and marketing agency of record, with results, not only successfully developing their provider network in Arizona beyond targeted levels, but executing agreements with eager dispensaries as well.

PR Revolution has been in business for over two decades and has helped a wide range of companies spanning multiple sectors establish traction with end markets, from big brands like multinational Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), to small private innovators like oral care product developer DenTek. PR Revolution’s ability to fuse broad-spectrum engagement competencies, ranging from highly granular PR, to fully leveraged social media and online presence initiatives, has been, and will be instrumental for Novus as they continue to expand their provider network’s overall footprint. PR Revolution has had considerable success with their portfolio of cannabis sector clients thus far, helping them to gain brand recognition with spots on widely-viewed channels like CNBC and FOX Business, as well as in widely-read publications like Forbes, Time Magazine and the Huffington Post, executing such campaign initiatives in a timely/coordinated fashion that exploits other PR and social media efforts.

There was a silver lining to the recently-passed $1 trillion-plus Congressional appropriations bill designed to keep the government running through September, in the form of a landmark legislative provision barring the DOJ (Department of Justice) at the federal level from spending any funds (Sec. 538 & 539) to go after the 23 states and D.C. (32 states enumerated in all) where MMJ laws have been passed. This is a key development for the burgeoning MMJ sector and also bars use of funds by DOJ or the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to contravene legitimate research on industrial hemp, as set forth in the Agricultural Act of 2014. Industrial hemp can be a viable source of cannabidiol (CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid) and is the basis for products like Lexaria Corp’s (OTC: LXRP) ViPova(TM) Tea product line, which is fully legal in all 50 states.

Receptivity to MMJ in the medical community is being driven ever forward by precedent-setting research into the underlying science of the body’s endocannabinoid system, with a majority of emphasis currently on CBD’s ability to act on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as the growing understanding of the role these receptors play in regulating a variety of neurological and physiological processes. CBD has become a core focus for the MMJ sector, with the most recent high-water mark being the FDA-approved clinical trial of GW Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ: GWPH) Epidiolex© (which has received orphan drug designation and contains plant-derived CBD as its active ingredient), in treating a severe and potentially deadly form of intractable childhood epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. GWPH has already seen good traction with their Sativex® product, a patented cannabinoid-based oromucosal mouth spray containing both THC and CBD, developed for Multiple Sclerosis-related spasticity, as well as cancer-related (Phase 3) and neuropathic pain (Phase 2).

Changing Winds, Yet Soaring Costs

The FDA also recently granted orphan drug designation to Insys Therapeutics’ (NASDAQ: INSY) pharmaceutical CBD candidate, which should be in Phase 1 clinical trials for pediatric schizophrenia by early 2015, and which is under continuing evaluation for use in several other conditions, like chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The recent introduction of the bipartisan-supported Veterans Equal Access Act, which would authorize Veterans Administration doctors to fill out forms, as well as openly recommend MMJ for wounded warriors suffering from PTSD and other ailments, is another positive sign of the changing legislative winds, as well as those within the medical community. Unfortunately, the cost of MMJ treatments, ranging from raw medical cannabis and extracts to the aforementioned drugs, still remain quite high in most states. Contributing factors like annual patient, supplier and distributor registration fees, as well as other logistical handicaps, are leading causes of the inordinately high prices for MMJ treatment.

In Minnesota, the 22nd state to legalize MMJ, restrictions prohibiting the plant form or its consumption by smoking, as well as stringent security protocols governing production, transit and dispensation, have helped make treatment prohibitively expensive for many consumers. According to a recently published article citing estimates from manufacturers in the state, Minnesotans will have to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 a month for treatment, and that is on top of the $200 yearly registration fee, placing relief well beyond the reach of a sizeable number of the very people whom the MMJ laws were intended to aid.

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