Affordability needs addressing directly
With the government's Medical Cannabis Scheme document out for consultation, Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ has undertaken an independent study of medicinal cannabis users. MCANZ, a charity which focuses on promoting access, supporting patients and providing education to the Medical profession, has received over 2,800 responses.
Among the key interim findings is that one-third of medical users grow at least some of their own cannabis plants, while two-thirds obtain at least some from friends and family. The average weekly spend was seen to be around $33 dollars, significantly less than the typical spend in Australia. Compared to the current options available for patients prescribed medicinal cannabis – Sativex, a UK made mouth spray, costs $1,000 per month. The Canadian alternative, Tilray, started selling here at just under that and has been slowly creeping down in price to around $500 per month, although the differing requirements for Epilepsy can still result in up to $2000 a week in rare instances.
“Given that this discussion document does very little to address the cost involved for patients and, and as yet there has been no indication of subsidising medical cannabis, this is little more than an academic exercise that risks further delaying affordable access,” says MCANZ spokesperson Mark Crotty.
“We encourage everyone, patients, industry, and regulators to find ways to improve affordability, one shining example is in Canada, where Licensed producers ship direct to patients, cutting out distributors and pharmacies with their profit margins, which could provide savings of 20% or more in the NZ context,” Says Mark