According to Levin Health, as the stigma around medical cannabis dissolves, interest and acceptance are on the rise. Between Q1 and Q3 in 2021, the number of patients grew by 50%.
Levin Health explains that many Australians have dealt with years of long waiting lists and high costs in some traditional medical services. Since the federal government made the prescription of cannabis-based products legal back in 2016, patients have had other options.
The desire for an alternative to the traditional medical system, coupled with a growing interest in clinical trials that test the efficacy of medicinal cannabis for a range of conditions, partly explains the movement towards the treatment. The majority of prescriptions for medical cannabis Australia-wide written last year were for patients with chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders, explains Levin Health.
In 2018, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) changed the system medical practitioners had to follow to apply for medicinal cannabis products. The Special Access Scheme Category B (SAS B) was utilized to minimize the need to apply for a single permit for each product. The new system meant permits could last anywhere between three months and two years, simplifying the entire process.
In a 3-month period in 2021, the number of Authorised Prescribers grew by 40%. Levin Health says this highlights a major uplift in clinicians that want to make medicinal cannabis a regular treatment option.
To date, there have been over 307,000 approved SAS-B applications.
Levin Health points out that as product availability increases, the price for consumers decreases. Every year sees more locally cultivated and manufactured products, which doubled between 2020 and 2021. With more than 200 different medicinal cannabis products available, patients can choose between oils, capsules, nasal sprays, and oral sprays.
And despite the industry achieving massive growth overall (with sales expected to reach $423 million by the end of this year), individual patient spend has dropped. The average individual spend now sits at $278 a month for cannabis in Melbourne and Australia-wide, with the average price per mg of cannabinoid continuing to drop.
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