The Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (AMCA) has launched a compassionate access scheme (CAS) for patients, calling on the industry to support the project with product and intellectual property.
Named Compass, the project leadership team is drawn from AMCA members, the Society of Cannabis Clinicians Australian Chapter, doctors and other healthcare professionals.
It has completed regulatory governance work and used the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Symposium to call on the industry to get behind the project.
AMCA board member and ANTG chief scientific officer Justin Sinclair told delegates the association wanted Compass to be a unifying project, bringing the industry together with “whatever skills or resources they can contribute to benefit the patients that we all wish to see lead healthier and happier lives”.
Recognising that some companies already have their own compassionate access programs or assist patients in need with product when they can, Sinclair said Compass aims to streamline the process, provide clinical oversight and offer support with governance and logistics.
He added: “Essentially, Compass is being set up to provide a step-by-step online process by which doctors can identify patients that are suffering genuine hardship and refer them for consideration.”
When a submission is made, the patient’s product requirements, clinical indications, and duration of need are assessed by the clinical team and prioritised against the type and number of products available within the CAS inventory.
Sinclair said companies could support the initiative by supplying products under a 12-month contract to ensure continuity, providing excess stock or products with a shorter shelf life on an ad-hoc basis or by supplying at cost.
Compass has also set up working groups to help build out the model with a product supply group conducting an industry-wide survey to gauge interest in the CAS, and the range of products it will be able to provide.
“We foresee that CBD-based products will be in particularly high demand, specifically for those within intractable epilepsy, due to the high doses that are required,” said Sinclair.
Other working groups will focus on patients, distribution, inventory management, finance and fundraising.
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