What are plant-based medicines?

Plant-based medicines are therapeutics derived from nature.

How do healthcare professionals prescribe plant-based medicines?

The TGA has published information about access pathways for plant-based medicine, which is available here.  

Plant-based medicine is currently available in Australia via prescription only. There are two main pathways for access: the Special Access Scheme (SAS) and the Authorised Prescriber Scheme (APS).

SAS is a pathway for patients with a medical condition that is not adequately managed by conventional treatments. Under SAS, any doctor can apply to the TGA for permission to prescribe plant-based medicine to a patient.

APS is a pathway for doctors who have been approved by the TGA to prescribe plant-based medicine without having to submit an individual application for each patient. This pathway is typically used for patients with chronic conditions that require ongoing treatment with plant-based medicine. To become an authorised prescriber, a doctor must demonstrate that they have the appropriate qualifications and experience in the field of medicine that they will be prescribing plant-based medicine for. They must also have sound knowledge of the risks and benefits of plant-based medicine. Once a doctor is authorised, they can prescribe medical plant-based medicine to their patients without having to submit individual applications to the TGA.


Eligibility criteria for plant-based medicine in Australia

Doctors are responsible for determining whether plant-based medicine is an appropriate treatment option for a patient under their direct care.  Patients should carefully always carefully consider potential benefits and risks of any treatment option proposed by their doctor.  It is important for patients to have open and honest discussions with their doctor, to weigh the available evidence, and make informed decisions together.

If a different doctor prescribes a plant-based medicine, they must communicate with the patient’s usual doctor to avoid potential risks.  Medical cannabis may interact with other medications and there may be side effects.  Ensuring the prescribing doctor has all the necessary information is critical to ensure the patient is safe and receives appropriate treatment.