EXCLUSIVE: An upgrade to the TGA’s SAS-B and Authorised Prescriber (AP) online system has seen wait times for approvals blow out and doctors drowning in red tape, Cannabiz has discovered.

The TGA rolled out the upgrade on April 22 in order to improve storage capability and navigation and tweak state-specific forms to reflect legislative amendments in those jurisdictions.

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It told Cannabiz: “Following implementation of the upgraded portal some IT issues were experienced. This, together with an overnight ‘outage’ period, created a backlog of applications which extended to seven days at one point.”

The TGA, which typically aims to process applications within 48 hours, said the issues have now been rectified and that it “continues to meet the timeframe of two working days to decision for medicinal cannabis applications submitted via the online portal, provided all relevant information is provided”.

However, according to our investigation, delays are ongoing and new problems have been introduced.

Based on figures released to Cannabiz by the TGA, 7,328 SAS-B applications were made from April 1 to 28, with 1,257 or 17% still pending approval on April 30. Of those, 1,104 were submitted to the TGA before April 17, meaning GPs waiting more than two weeks for an answer.

GP Matty Moore confirmed he has been waiting for SAS-B approvals for up to 14 days, and for his AP application to be processed since the end of March.

GP Matty Moore: multiple applications per day

He said one of the problems with the new system is that GPs can no longer clone SAS-B applications for existing patients, meaning they have to submit a new application every time.