ASX-listed cannabis plays were all smiles on Friday morning as the NSW government moved to reduce the waiting time for doctors prescribing unregistered cannabis medicines.
Patients will now receive an answer on applications within 36 hours.
The NSW government removed itself from the medical cannabis application process, allowing the federal Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to handle all requests.
The single application will mean doctors prescribing unregistered cannabis medicines will receive an answer much more quickly.
Currently the only drug on the TGA’s register is Sativex, which still requires NSW regulatory authority to prescribe as it’s a Schedule 8 drug.
The Northern Territory was the first part of Australia to pioneer the move, removing the local regulator from the process.
Until now, NSW patients had to apply to both the TGA and the NSW regulator, which has so far only allowed a handful of people to access medical cannabis.
NSW Health data released this week shows that between August 2016 and December 2017, the State regulator approved only 61 applications for medicinal cannabis.
“The NSW Government has listening to the community and to the members of the National and Liberal parties who have advocated in our party room for a more streamlined and compassionate approach,” said the NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard.
“A single approval process enables a focus on the world-leading clinical trials under the NSW Government’s $21 million invested into medicinal cannabis.”
Medical Cannabis Council general manager Blaise Bratter said the move “came out of the blue” this week.
He says that while it won’t quite throw the doors open for NSW patients to access medical cannabis, it will make the medication easier to obtain.
“There’s still a process to go through and while patient access and streamlining State approvals was one of the three big issues for access, the others are product price — they’re quite expensive and I don’t think that the average household would be able to afford it.
“The other issue is education for medical professionals,” he told Stockhead.
He hopes that other States will adopt the same method and believes Western Australia may be the next domino to fall.
WA Minister for Health Roger Cook said in the State Parliament in May:
“We will take the lead to ensure that nothing stands in the way of the medical community and
the families of sick patients with chronic and painful diseases to ensure that they get the help they need.”
Here is a recent table of ASX-listed cannabis plays (prices are from February 22).
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