RACGP calls for consistent, simplified medicinal cannabis framework

Paul Hayes

6/03/2018 3:35:40 PM

The RACGP has articulated its view that the current system for prescribing medicinal cannabis products in Australia is ‘highly bureaucratic, time-consuming and expensive’ in its new position statement on the subject.

President Dr Bastian Seidel believes the RACGP’s recommendation for a simplified and streamlined prescribing process will benefit not only GPs, but also their patients.
President Dr Bastian Seidel believes the RACGP’s recommendation for a simplified and streamlined prescribing process will benefit not only GPs, but also their patients.

The regulatory framework for medicinal use of cannabis products’ outlines the RACGP’s belief that a consistent national prescribing framework should be developed and include:

  • a user-friendly, single-step approval process that acts as a submission portal to all relevant authorities (ie federal and state/territory regulators)
  • efficient and timely processing of requests
  • legislative consistency between federal and state/territory governments regarding access to medicinal cannabis products
  • education and training in relation to the regulatory requirements and prescribing processes of medicinal cannabis products
  • a process whereby GPs should be treated like other specialists and have the autonomy to determine when it is appropriate to prescribe to eligible patients
  • a consideration of introduction of approved medicinal cannabis products on real-time prescribing systems.
The RACGP feels that while the regulatory and prescribing regime must be robust to ensure appropriate clinical access within the confines of the legislation, the prescribing process should be fit for purpose. The college is advocating for the simplification and streamlining of regulatory processes for eligible patients, which it believes will reduce variation due to differing jurisdictional processes and ensure patient welfare is at the centre of this area of medicine.
‘The current regulatory complexities and differences between states and territories regarding accessing medicinal cannabis products are significant barriers for GPs and patients,’ RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel told newsGP. ‘The RACGP’s recommendation for a simplified and streamlined prescribing process will benefit not only GPs, but their patients throughout the community.’
The RACGP has also called for greater GP and patient access to evidenced-based information and educational material, as well as the inclusion of medicinal cannabis products in real-time prescribing systems.
The release of the new RACGP statement follows last week’s announcement by New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt of a significant overhaul of the application process for medicinal cannabis in NSW. Dr Bastian Seidel is supportive of the NSW decision.
‘For too long there has been too much political interference in patient access to medicinal cannabis. The announcement removes some of this interference and brings NSW patients a step closer to an efficient and sensible process for access,’ Dr Seidel told newsGP last week.
‘If I have a patient who has tried all standard treatment options without success, I should be able to consider prescribing medicinal cannabis as a viable treatment option without having to wait months.’
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel will be discussing the issue of medicinal cannabis on the ABC’s 7.30 on Wednesday 7 March.

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Philip Dawson   6/03/2018 6:15:15 PM

We had a talk from a pain specialist visiting from Melbourne who stated there is no good evidence of any clinical benefit of "medical marijuana" for any condition. I am not at all interested in prescribing anything based on that evidence! I have a number of patients who use Marijuana for various purposes, mainly back pain, some to relax-is either self medicating their chronic anxiety or other mental health problem, or feeding their addiction. I note many of the older ones have very poor lung function, and all the patients I have with severe emphysema before the age of 50 have been heavy marijuana smokers since their early teens. I understand the "medicinal cannabis" produced in Canada as an oil has no THC, just the other cannabinoids. Why not bring out firm advice not to smoke it due to the severe risk of emphysema at roughly 10 years younger than heavy tobacco smokers, and propose to legalize this oil for personal use? A number of people already import it from canad and only a few get found by customs.

Dr Ruth Gawler   6/03/2018 8:09:22 PM

Thank you for tackling this tricky area, which has so many interested lobbies against and for it in a way that does not serve our patients.... The red tape will only really be slashed when a doctor can write a prescription just like they do for so many drugs of addiction. With due diligence of course!