Eligibility and access

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Cannatrek: Eligibility and access

While the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act (2016) in Australia permits the prescribing of medicinal cannabis, the process of obtaining it can sometimes be extensive and uncertain for patients. The Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has specified that cannabis products - which are not currently included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) - can be obtained through a Special Access Scheme (SAS-B) application, submitted by a doctor.

Why plant based medicines?

There is a growing interest by the Australian medical community in prescribing plant based medicines for certain conditions. Despite limited clinical evidence, there is significant anecdotal evidence supporting the effectiveness of therapies like medicinal cannabis for people looking for a different treatment to help manage their pain.

Medicinal cannabis affects the Endocannabinoid system in the body and helps stabilise internal systems. By promoting sleep, appetite, stress reduction, modulation of pain and inflammation, medicinal cannabis can potentially help a range of conditions.

Many severe or drug-resistant health conditions do not have a suitable treatment method that provides the patient with significant relief for pain without intolerable side effects. This is where Cannatrek hopes to provide an alternative therapeutic option – where traditional medicines have not worked or stopped working.

Eligibility

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia has outlined certain criteria for prescribing medicinal cannabis. Patients must exhibit some, or all, of the mandatory indications listed below to be eligible for a Special Access Scheme (SAS-B) application.
  • A medical condition diagnosed by a doctor.
  • The patient has sought out traditional treatment methods beforehand that resulted in unacceptable adverse side effects and/or no significant efficacy in treating the prescribed condition.

The TGA requires appropriate clinical justification for each application from the prescribing doctor. This rationale will highlight the individual’s condition and circumstances and include sufficient evidence to show they could benefit from this alternative treatment.

At present, there are over fifty ‘fast track’ health conditions that have regularly received approved SAS-B applications in Australia.

To discuss these conditions, and whether your health condition might be considered, speak with your doctor.

Your doctor may consider a plant based therapy prescription if you present with either of the below:

  • Any chronic condition that:
    • has lasted for three months or longer, and
    • has not responded to conventional medical treatments or has unbearable side effects.
    • Any health condition that is considered a “Fast Track” condition for which the TGA has provided guidance.

Speak with your doctor to see if you are eligible for an alternative plant based treatment.

Access

There are three Special Access Schemes for unauthorised therapeutic goods in Australia. Plant based medicines like medicinal cannabis prescriptions are obtained through the application pathway ‘SAS-B’.

The application must be submitted by an eligible patient’s doctor or specialist with clinical justification and relevant medical history details. As an alternative to pursuing a SAS-B application, you could apply to be involved in clinical trials where plant based medicine like medicinal cannabis is dispensed. If you feel your health condition meets the initial requirements and alternative therapy products could benefit you, you can begin the application process by consulting your doctor.

Speak to your current doctor

Firstly, you should consult your primary healthcare provider or medical team and discuss the suitability of a treatment like medicinal cannabis for you and your condition. Your doctor will understand your response to previous treatment methods and help decide if you are eligible to use medicinal cannabis for pain management through the SAS-B pathway.

Should your doctor need more information prior to submitting this application on your behalf, Cannatrek has downloadable informational guides available and consultants who can speak to them directly. Please ask your doctor to get in touch with our consultants here.

Access to Cannatrek

Your own GP or doctor is the first and ideal person to help you decide on what alternative treatment options are suitable for you. If they are uncomfortable with prescribing you with plant based therapies like medicinal cannabis, and you wish to consider it as a treatment option, Cannatrek Access helps link patients to qualified, independent doctors across Australia.

These doctors have experience with therapies like medicinal cannabis and will help you make an informed decision about the suitability of this treatment method. To speak to one of these doctors, you can book online via Cannatrek Access and select a convenient time for your telehealth appointment.

During this telehealth consultation, the doctor will discuss your interest in alternative plant based therapies, review your history and establish your eligibility for a prescription. If your doctor agrees you meet the criteria for approval, they can submit an application on your behalf. If at any point you feel you are struggling to get access or clear information, please contact one of our consultants to discuss your personal circumstances further.