Medicinal Cannabis can offer interested Pharmacies and Pharmacists the potential to become experts in a niche therapeutic area. It is not often that a whole new drug class with so much potential becomes available for Pharmacy and Pharmacists to make immediate impact, provide solutions for doctors, nurses, and ultimately to a patient. From the outset, Pharmacy can become the partner in the patient journey and help their patients to achieve outcomes and improve their quality of life.
Medicinal Cannabis Products available in Australia are complex medicinal herbal extracts that exhibit a variety of effects and side effects. It is not a traditional medicine in the sense that there is only one or two actives. These are plant extracts sometimes with multiple flavonoids, plant sterols etc etc that work in various ways to achieve the unique desired outcome. This offers Pharmacy a key position in helping patients through their health journey with Medicinal Cannabis, building very close relationships with prescribers, nursing teams and the community.
Currently there are two main cannabinoids that doctors prescribe – Cannabidiol (CBD), a schedule 4 and THC (delta-9 tetra-hydrocannabidiol), a schedule 8. These products are available as oil based solutions, capsules or vaporizable powdered plant materials. Stability data suggests that THC breaks down at room temperature so, some THC products require storage a 2-8 degrees celsius, which can represent a challenge to some pharmacies.
Most medicinal cannabis products in Australia are unregistered medicines, although the TGA and Office of Drug Control have approved a number of products for import into the country. These products can be supplied via the Special Access Scheme, Authorized Prescriber scheme or Clinical Trial programs.
For more information about products approved for import to Australia, and the regulations required for pharmacy, pharmacists can logon to the CannabisAccess site with their AHPRA number.