About medicinal cannabis
Medicinal cannabis may be prescribed in any form (e.g. oils, capsules, flower, spray) by a doctor for specific medical purposes. Doctors and patients may prefer one format over another, for example the oil format is currently the most prescribed medical cannabis format in Australia.
Medicinal cannabis may be suitable for patients that have exhausted medicine options. The TGA notes as with all therapies, medical practitioners must exercise their professional judgment in determining the appropriate medicine for an individual patient.
At this time the TGA suggest that the use of medicinal cannabis may be considered only when registered medicines have been tried and proven unsuccessful in managing the patient’s symptoms or medical condition.3
TGA approved indications for medicinal cannabis prescriptions
Like other unapproved medicines, unapproved medicinal cannabis is prescribed through TGA Special Access Scheme, Authorised prescribers or Clinical Trials. To date, the TGA has approved medicinal cannabis for indications including, but not limited to: 2
- Chronic pain, including cancer and neuropathic pain
- Chemotherapy-induced symptoms including nausea and vomiting
- Muscle spasticity and tremors, including epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease
- Palliative care
- Autism and attention deficit disorders
Prescribing medical cannabis
Any medical doctor is eligible for prescribing medicinal cannabis products to an individual patient through the TGA Special Access Scheme.4
Some doctors prefer to become Authorised Prescribers to prescribe the same medicinal cannabis for the same condition to a number of patients.5
Many doctors also opt into ‘Shared-Care’, sharing the patient care with a doctor specifically trained and experienced in using medicinal cannabis.
- Alcohol and drug Foundation. Medicinal cannabis. Available online: https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/medicinal-cannabis/ [Accessed Feb 2020].
- Australian Government. Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Access to medicinal cannabis products. Available online: https://www.tga.gov.au/access-medicinal-cannabis-products-1 [Accessed Mar 2020].
- Australian Government. Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Medicinal cannabis – guidance documents. Available online: https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-guidance-documents [Accessed Mar 2020].
- Australian Government. Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Special Access Scheme. Available online: https://www.tga.gov.au/form/special-access-scheme [Accessed Mar 2020].
- Australian Government. Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Authorised Prescribers. Available online: https://www.tga.gov.au/form/authorised-prescribers [Accessed Mar 2020].