Strong demand - supply shortages of cannabis by prescription

Strong demand - supply shortages of cannabis by prescription

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Over 13,000 applications for reimbursement of costs from the statutory health insurance companies

In March 2017, the herbal intoxicant cannabis was released as a pain therapy for prescription use. Since then, an increasing number of patients have used this offer. According to a survey by "RP Digital GmbH" at the statutory health insurance companies Techniker, Barmer and AOK, more than 13,000 applications for cost coverage have already been received. The strong demand has already led to supply shortages in cannabis production. The cannabis on prescription is primarily used as a pain reliever therapy and is available in the form of drops, spray or as flowers.

Cannabis can only be purchased with a prescription from the pharmacy. Any other source of supply or in-house production is not permitted because cannabis is an illegal drug in Germany. The survey conducted by the "Rheinische Post" shows that over 60 percent of the applications for reimbursement of costs are approved. For many applications, however, the need to prescribe cannabis was not sufficiently justified. Manufacturers are apparently not prepared for the strong demand. The bill, which legalized prescription spending, expected just under 700 patients a year. The German Hemp Association (DHV) reports that there were repeated supply bottlenecks and inflated prices in 2017.

Cumbersome approval from the health insurance companies

Already at the first B2B cannabis conference in Europe in Berlin at the beginning of April, Georg Wurth from the German Hemp Association reported that problems with the willingness to pay the costs at the cash registers would emerge: “We know of some rejections, even for those patients who previously had one Had a special permit. ”Some doctors also criticize the behavior of the statutory health insurance companies. "I have to describe the behavior of the health insurance companies with regard to the assumption of costs for the cannabis products as unacceptably uncooperative," the Berlin doctor Eva Milz told the German Medical Association. The health insurers, on the other hand, assure the Rheinische Post that the other applications will not be completely rejected. Many are just incomplete.

Who can get cannabis on prescription?

The AOK writes on its website: "Seriously ill people, such as pain or cancer patients, can be prescribed cannabis-based medicines - but only in very limited exceptional cases." The AOK had to agree to the use of cannabis before starting therapy. In the case of a serious illness such as multiple sclerosis or cancer, cannabis can be prescribed if no approved and available form of therapy has been successful or other forms of therapy are not suitable for the patient concerned in the opinion of the doctor. Whether an insured person receives a medical prescription depends on his individual situation.

Regulation only with accompanying study

The AOK emphasizes that there is currently insufficient scientific knowledge about the medical use of cannabis. For this reason, the supply of patients with cannabis-containing medicines is linked to a five-year accompanying study. Patients are obliged to participate in this. Diagnosis, dose, effects, side effects and other information are anonymously transmitted to the competent higher federal authority (Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices - BfArM). The results of the study should show whether therapy with cannabis makes sense.

Where does the cannabis come from?

According to the DHV, medical cannabis is currently imported from Canada and the Netherlands. German cannabis cultivation is scheduled to start in 2019. There is currently a call for tenders from the new cannabis agency of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Cannabis production of 6.6 tons is planned for the period from 2019 to 2022. (fp)

Author and source information

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