Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) welcomed the report from The Senate Community Affairs References Committee into Current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia as a key step in assisting patients who are seeking easier and more affordable access to what is a prescription medicine.
Medicinal cannabis has an important role to play in improving health outcomes. As at 31 December 2019, TGA had accepted over 130 conditions (as described by the applicant) for medicinal cannabis use. MCIA supports a holistic healthcare approach built around patients and their regular medical practitioner determining if medicinal cannabis is an appropriate medicine for their current medical condition.
MCIA believes that patients should have easy and affordable access to a quality controlled, true to label, compliant product that that is already demonstrating the potential to positively contribute to a broad range of conditions.
MCIA had called for three key areas to be addressed as priorities in achieving this including: removing regulatory barriers and delays; promoting confidence across patients, doctors, and the community through education; and importantly addressing affordability, thus in turn reducing the growth of the illicit medical cannabis market in Australia. MCIA is pleased that the Senate Committee has addressed these priorities with positive recommendations, however there is still work to be done.
MCIA supports and encourages the Government to implement as matter of priority, the recommendation to
increase the resourcing and staffing levels of the Office of Drug Control to ensure licence applications are processed without delays. “Improving and streamlining the existing legislation and operations of ODC will support the facilitation of patient access to timely, cost effective and quality Australian product. There is a need to improve the pathway for licence holders to obtain the relevant permits and other regulatory approvals required to support operations and facilitate the supply of Australian product to the market. “ said Mr Crock MCIA Chair, “MCIA strongly supports the regulation of medicinal cannabis under a dual ODC/TGA framework as this provides confidence to doctors and the healthcare sector along with acceptance of medicinal cannabis as a ‘medicine’ both in Australia and into export markets where products regulated by the TGA are readily accepted”
MCIA welcomes the Committee’s recommendations around improved and expanded education and public awareness campaigns working with existing professional medical organisations and practitioners. Furthermore, the inclusion of the endocannabinoid system and medicinal cannabis in accredited medical curriculums will build understanding and use of medicinal cannabis as a medicine. “This is critical to promote change in attitudes to medicinal cannabis, particularly amongst healthcare practitioners” said Mr Crock.
MCIA also welcomes the recommendations for improved and expanded resources for patients and doctors. “This will lead to improved prescriber understanding and result in better access for patients. The Department of Health stated recently that patient numbers have increased by more than 600% in 2019. This is following a similar trajectory to Canada, where more than 1% of the population are medicinal cannabis patients” said Mr Crock.
The report’s recommendations also address inconsistencies among the states and territories in terms of pathways and prescribing practices. A nationally consistent process will ensure that all health professionals and patients are treated equally. MCIA welcomes the concept of a National Framework for Medicinal Cannabis Access that will cover each state and territory.
Importantly, the Report also deals with affordability in terms of more explicit inclusion in the Medicare Benefits Scheme and the establishment of a Compassionate Access Subsidy Scheme or subsidisation on the PBS for medicinal cannabis. The report noted that this should be developed in consultation with industry and be based on the best available evidence of efficacy for certain conditions – MCIA welcomes the opportunity to be involved in helping shape such a scheme.
The Australian licensed sector will have significant capacity coming online over the next couple of years. This should see Australian patients being able to access Australian quality product in a timely and affordable manner. To achieve the shared outcomes of a sustainable industry that contributes to patient wellbeing and the economy, the Government needs to streamline regulation, invest in education and provide patient subsidies. Mr Crock said “MCIA looks forward to the opportunity to review the Report in detail and work with the Government in appropriate implementation of recommendations that support efficient execution of regulations, improved education and improved access and affordability for patients.”
0411 564 128
Peter Crock Chair
0419 307 467
MCIA is the peak industry organisation for Australia’s licensed medicinal cannabis industry. This encompasses all activities of medicinal cannabis licence holders across research, cultivation and manufacturing and interaction with patients, the medical profession and communities.
MCIA’s focus is on building an industry that enhances wellbeing through facilitating access to quality Australian medicinal cannabis products for Australian and global patients.
MCIA is providing stewardship for an economically sustainable and socially responsible industry that is trusted and valued by patients, the medical community and governments. The Australian industry and its products are built on sound science and underpinned by industry processes and standards that ensure patients, the medical community and governments have confidence in the sector and its products.