Guidelines for medicinal cannabis applications under review

By March 16, 2016 Recent News

Stuff 12 March 2016
Family First Comment: A very good summary of the current status in New Zealand – and following the careful and considered process that we have called for.

… The issue has become such a hot potato, not helped by misreporting, with the inevitable emotion that takes over when navigating drug access and political agendas. The problem with the Crowe and Holmes stories is that they highlighted a growing debate but also, through no fault of their own, held up as reasons why medicinal cannabis should be a free-for-all. That is a difficult pill to swallow given it implies their opinion is more worthy or holds more weight than anyone else’s and, frankly, people should be offended by that notion. This idea is being led by campaigners set on medicinal cannabis being available at the pharmacy overnight and, sadly, two respected men who lost their battles with cancer have been caught up in it.

The reality is simple. The Government is not sitting on its hands doing nothing. In fact Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne is one of many driving change. Just last month he called for a review of the guidelines for considering medicinal cannabis applications.

As it stands the only approved medicinal cannabis in New Zealand is the mouth spray, Sativex. It is not funded by Pharmac and costs over $1000 a month. Any other product must be approved by Dunne. As of the end of January the ministry had received 120 applications for medicinal cannabis, of which 105 have been approved. Another five are still in progress and 10 have not been granted for various reasons. So there it is – people are applying for access to medicinal cannabis and in most cases being granted it.

Dunne is on the record saying he is keeping a close watch on research and random-control trials of cannabinoid products in Israel and the United States. Once manufacturers make a product and it passes MedSafe checks it will be available in New Zealand. The point in doing it this way is that it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel in New Zealand. We’re not big enough to have the medical professionals and patients available to do the trials so it makes sense to piggy-back where possible, including in Australia. In short, if the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves something in America, which is only a matter of time, there’s no reason it wouldn’t be of a good enough standard for New Zealand. Then it would be a case of Pharmac negotiating a price and potentially subsidising it….
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