Pharmacies accused of over-charging patients for medicinal cannabis

By December 7, 2020 Recent News

Stuff 6 December 2020
Family First Comment: What’s interesting in this coverage is that there’s been no screaming and shouting from the rooftops by the Greens and Chloe about this problem.
Which proves that the medicinal issue has been a smokescreen all along.

Since the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into operation in April, the number of reported product packs supplied has skyrocketed from 1276 then to 2387 in September, an 87 per cent jump.

None of the products are made in New Zealand because no company has yet passed the Ministry of Health’s strict quality standards to obtain a licence to manufacture. That is expected to change in the coming months.

Meanwhile, all medicinal cannabis is being imported by five companies with licences to do so.

A source in one medicinal cannabis company told Stuff they would typically add 50 per cent to the price they purchased it for overseas, the pharmacy wholesaler would add around 3-6 per cent and some pharmacies were adding anywhere between 50 and 100 per cent.

Because the products are unapproved medicines, they cannot by law be advertised so there is no transparency around pricing.

And because the products are not Government funded, pharmacists can charge what they like.

Some pharmacists are using their standard computer software to generate a retail price; others are charging a flat fee which is $10 to $20 above the wholesale price, on “compassionate” grounds.

Wholesale prices obtained from a variety of sources by Stuff varied widely for similar products.

Prices may vary depending on the supplier, but generally the wholesale price of a 40ml bottle of Tilray, containing 100mg of CBD per millilitre, is about $433, including GST.

A 40ml bottle of Endoca (150mg) is about $396, a 30ml bottle of Theraleaf (100mg) is about $229, a 25ml bottle of Medleaf (100mg) about $200 and a 30ml bottle of Eqalis​ (120mg) about $178.

Depending on the prescribed dosage, a bottle can last for a month or two.

To save money, many patients have illegally imported products themselves via the internet – a bottle of CBD oil can be bought for about $100 – or turned to the illicit local market.

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