Streamlining medicinal cannabis prescribing – new resources to navigate prescribing

In November 2021 and April 2022 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) made changes to the access framework and application processes for ‘unapproved’ medicinal cannabis products. NPS MedicineWise, in collaboration with the TGA, has released new information and resources to support appropriate prescribing and dispensing of medicinal cannabis products. The NPS MedicineWise medicinal cannabis hub brings together all the resources in one place.

A new article describes the changes which were made to reduce administrative burden and increase flexibility for brand substitution.

“Medicinal cannabis products now fall into one of five categories based on cannabinoid content,” says Dr Kate Annear, GP and Medical Advisor at NPS MedicineWise.

“Any Australian registered medical practitioner can apply to become an ‘Authorised Prescriber’. They can then prescribe low THC-concentration medicinal cannabis products to patients meeting the dosage form and indication outlined by the TGA, without an accompanying HREC* or separate approval for each patient.

“Higher THC-concentration products can be prescribed through the Authorised Prescriber pathway with an accompanying HREC or on a case-by-case basis under the ‘Special Access Scheme’,” she says.

A new flowchart defines the five categories of medicinal cannabis products and lists available resources for prescribers and pharmacists. It also shows the steps involved from a consultation with a patient through to dispensing medicinal cannabis at the pharmacy.

A new FAQ article answers questions including what to consider before prescribing medicinal cannabis, how to navigate the TGA’s online application system and when are separate applications required.

“In a recent podcast, NPS MedicineWise spoke to Dr Jess Tidemann from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. We spoke about access to ‘unapproved’ goods that are not registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

“The majority of medicinal cannabis products are considered unapproved medicines, but so are, for example, nicotine vaping products and specific formulations of vitamin D capsules,” she says.

*HREC is Human Research Ethics Committee


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