MCANZ Press Release: BERL report's revenues could offer funding for Medical Cannabis users.
Medicinal cannabis patients want a slice of the projected revenue should Cannabis be legalized, with the revenues expected to be over $1 Billion as laid out in the BERL reports released last week.
MCANZ would like to see some of the tax revenue's or levies ring-fenced for a Named patient funding scheme, managed by either PHARMAC or the new Medical Cannabis Agency so that patients with severe needs get funding as a priority.
The Medical Cannabis regime rolled out by the former Minister of Health David Clark did not directly address costs to patients, and hoped that domestic competition would drive costs down.
As a conventional medicine, Medical Cannabis has funding hurdles, natural extracts don't attract enforceable patents, which prevents high quality large clinical trials that are needed to satisfy PHARMAC about cost/benefits of particular products.
MCANZ has met with PHARMAC on this issue, and it's our understanding that outside of Epidiolex, its unlikely that any Cannabis Medicines will have enough research backing to even be considered for funding in the foreseeable future.
Offshore, progress has been made on funding, with a child, Billy Caldwell being granted NHS funding for his Epilepsy in the UK, and Australia considering funding for Epidiolex, although a final decision has been delayed.
To date, a mere handful of patients have received govt funding in NZ.
- ACC has funded less than 12 patients, most are temporary, as ACC behaves like a health insurer moving the goalposts, with most patients being funded merely for 3-6 Months.
- WINZ has Temporary Additional support, which is used infrequently for partial funding.
- PHARMAC has refused multiple NPPA applications for individual patients and refused to fund Sativex.
MCANZ would like to highlight that in Germany, health insurance coverage is massive, with the equivalent of tens of millions of NZ dollars in subsidies every month. "Germany really shows what's possible, with health insurers having a role similar to PHARMAC, they have a high success rate for patient approvals, and provide generous support that is sure to leave New Zealand patients envious," Says MCANZ Founder and Trustee Shane Le Brun.
Figure 1, German health insurers fund tens of millions of dollars of Medical Cannabis on a monthly basis, Source, Prohibition partners
“The barrier to medicinal access is primarily the cost. Other countries have a wider range of medicinal cannabis products and their pricing is more competitive." "Costs for legal medical cannabis need to be lower than the current black-market costs, to avoid patients having to revert to the latter for financial reasons” Says MCANZ Coordinator and Registered Nurse Jacinta Newport.
For more information on how the adult-use referendum intersects with the needs of patients, visit the MCANZ referendum FAQ