State’s first medicinal cannabis clinic opens
QUEENSLAND'S first medicinal cannabis access clinic will officially open on Wednesday at Belmont, in Brisbane's southeast, but the cost will be prohibitive for many.
Patients will be charged an out-of-pocket fee of $230 for an initial consultation, with subsequent visits costing $50, once the $70 Medicare rebate is factored in.
Depending on the disorder a patient has, the medicinal cannabis could then set them back up to $600 a month, given the products are not subsidised under Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
But Cannabis Access Clinics medical director Sanjay Nijhawan said the cost of medicinal cannabis products was decreasing "all the time".
The Brisbane clinic, similar to similar centres in Sydney and Melbourne, aims to cut through the bureaucratic red tape for patients who have exhausted all conventional therapies and want to try medical cannabis.
The clinic will not accept "walk-in" appointments.
Patients will need a "letter of support" from a general practitioner or medical practitioner to be seen by a Cannabis Access Clinic doctor.
Dr Nijhawan, previously head of clinical development for Primary Health Care, said if a patient was deemed eligible for medicinal cannabis an application would be made to Australia's medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
If the TGA signs off on the application, the Cannabis Access Clinic would then apply to Queensland Health for approval.
"We're working within the guidelines. We will not work outside the guidelines," Dr Nijhawan said.
He said doctors had about 30 to 40 medicinal cannabis products they could choose from, sourced mostly out of Canada and Europe.
Dr Nijhawan stressed Cannabis Access Clinics were not aligned to any particular medicinal cannabis supplier.
Once a medicinal cannabis prescription was approved, he said dispensing could take between five days to four weeks.
Conditions that are listed by Cannabis Access Clinics as potentially eligible to be treated with medicinal cannabis include chronic pain, such as cancer pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety, sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
But Dr Nijhawan said patients would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and this was not an exhaustive list.
For more information, visit: cannabisaccessclinics.com.au