Medical Cannabis supply shortage, harming patients
Media Release MCUA of Australia Inc 4/1/21
Where has all the flower gone?
With over 80,000 approvals for medical cannabis and a flourishing cannabis industry, patients all over Australia are missing out on their treatments because of lack of supply. And no one seems to care.
Patient advocacy group Medical Cannabis Users Assoc of Australia inc (MCUA) is hearing from legally prescribed patients that they are being left high and dry in their search for the life changing herb.
“Many of these patients have given up conventional medications with toxic side effects in search for a better quality of life – which many have been experiencing since switching to the herbal alternative.” said Deb Lynch, President of the MCUA. “Patients have had enough of the supply issues and want the problem fixed.”
One comment posted by a patient on social media sums up just how broken the system is :
“We pay Top dollar to obtain scripts, and what we seem to be paying for is the worst and most inefficient operation I have ever seen in my life. From the Doctors, pharmacies, suppliers, and TGA the whole system has more holes then Swiss cheese. Not once in 3 years of using legal has anyone from the above list surveyed my opinion to improve its operations (I’ve sure given it numerous times). Many of us rely on legal cannabis for pain relief and sanity in lieu of heavy medicines such as anti-seizure medicines and opioids. How can we use this as a medicine when it’s constantly having supply issues even pre-covid???”
And from another:
“Actually what p*****s me off about the whole medical thing is why can’t we try another brand of the same THC amount without having to get a new script? I guess I see it the same as pharmacy drugs using generic brands or different producers of the product”
“And this is also where the law falls down. While there is no stock and you’re approved you can’t get an alternative. You have to spend big $$$ and time to go back to TGA”.
It is obvious that industry has let patients down in its chase for profits. Way back in 2018 when Fed Health minister Greg Hunt opened local production to export he promised “no Aussie patient would be left behind”.. and the industry agreed.
“By helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this, in turn, helps to ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products here in Australia,” Hunt said in a statement.
But this has not been the case.
Aussie patients have NOT come first. Local producers have had several harvests but still the greater majority of approvals are for expensive imported products that pass thru many sets of hands – and this continues to be the case.
Patients are reporting supply shortages all over the country on social media patient groups like MCUA and The Medical Cannabis Australia Support Group.
Patient comments include:
“I’m so mad right now. Every one of the FOUR different flowers I am PRESCRIBED is out of stock and no idea when this can be fixed.”
“Tilray was out of stock for 4 weeks, this is the 4th time in the last 6 months, I’m swapping to an Aussie brand as soon as my doctor is back in mid January”
“Told yesterday by the chemist “Sorry, can’t get any as out of stock and no idea as to what’s going on.”
“Takes minimum 2 weeks from payment waiting for it and they wonder why people prefer illicit, get sorted in half an hour as opposed to 2-4 weeks plus doc appointments and costs.”
“In 8 months have spent $12,152 without consultation fees included. All off someone on DSP, who tried to go back to work to cover costs as it was the only thing that’s worked in 10yrs of pills But can’t do my job as involves driving which you can’t do with THC in your system. Then we run out of supplies and dr forgot to send invoice, so I rang today, to be told he will try and get scripts in post today, otherwise it will be our next postal run. WTF this has replaced all the nasty pills i was on like blood pressure, heart, sleeping, depression, pain Been without for nearly 3 weeks while chasing dr and stuff….”
“Ive been waiting since October for my new product to come into stock. And they wonder why we resort to black market”
“… we are paying for the scripts that only last for 6 months at a time, just to be told that some products aren’t available for up to lengthy periods of time. This is unacceptable. It’s a medicine and yet they run out of stock? Who ever heard of someone running out of blood pressure meds or cholesterol meds? This is proof that it’s still not being taken seriously …”
“…I was changed, and charged last week to go from Sensi Star to T20 Mongolian because of supply issues. So they gave me script for T20 which will no longer be available and I’ll have another consult fee to change it again. I’m sure they must have known earlier it was discontinued. Yet still prescribed. I can’t work it out …”
“..Rang up today to fill my script for t20 Mongolian flower to be told I can’t get and have re-book another appointment…. as it is not being stocked again..”
“I put this complaint into my local MP. That if they have a licence, stock should be guaranteed. You could all do the same.”
What other medication supply just dries up without some sort of generic or other replacement being available so that treatment is not interrupted?
The current shortage of legal product is forcing more and more patients back to the green and black market.
It appears that some importers may have jumped at the chance to scoop up “end of model run-out bargains” from international suppliers and patients are suffering because of greedy business practices. Now with the end of this line of products, there are not enough local products to pick up the slack as Aussie companies are opting for the export option rather than feeding the local market.
Its not only the supplier who are profiting from these run out products sold here at ridiculously high prices; but it seems clinics are also benefiting financially with patients having to chase up new approvals every time their product becomes unavailable. This is unacceptable.
It also strengthens the case for smaller local growers supplying the local market rather than just corporations having the monopoly. We need a herbal delivery system sitting along side the pharmaceutical delivery system.
With few if any products likely to be registered on the ARTG or listed on the PBS under the current delivery model in the foreseeable future, a herbal delivery system similar to the US is the best solution for product-starved patients.
But as we have seen, the patients are the last consideration in the Health Minister’s bid to become “the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier”. Mr Hunt says that the ultimate goal is to become a top competitor in the global cannabis market – “perhaps even the biggest.”
Suggestions were made by the Barriers to Medical Cannabis Inquiry early last year that could help alleviate this lack of supply issue – but these have still not been addressed.
Recommendation 20 suggests in part, that the States review legislation in relation to amnesties for the possession and/or cultivation of cannabis for genuine self-medication purposes.
NO state has made any moves to allow an amnesty for patients on drug charges for medical use; and they continue to be terrorised, penalised and criminalised for trying to survive the train wreck of a delivery system that has been set up in this country to prevent rather that provide access to this life changing drug.
For more information
Contact Deb Lynch
President MCUA of Australia Inc
4th January 2018 = 3 yrs ago
It is also a shrewd business move, with ambitions for Australia to become the biggest producer of medicinal cannabis products in the world.
We would like to be, potentially, the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier,” Mr Hunt said.
“One of the conditions of any licence for export is that medicinal cannabis be made available to Australian patients first,” Mr Hunt said. “The sector is fully supportive of that. Australian patients come first.”