Free medicinal cannabis information service MCinfo.com now has more than 1,700 New Zealand doctors and pharmacists registered on the back of increasing patients enquiries about the medicine.
Launched in June 2021 to deliver prescriber education programs and resources, MCinfo is run by healthcare and pharmaceutical consulting firm Datapharm.
Director Don Budge said the growing interest in medicinal cannabis among GPs was being driven by patients who are beginning to realise that cost-effective products are available locally.
“They’re receiving a lot more enquiries from patients so they’re keen to learn more about prescribing it,” he said. “GPs’ interest is partly patient driven as Kiwis wake up to the fact New Zealand CBD products have been available for nine months, and in many cases, are nowhere near as expensive.”
Budge said it was frustrating that some media stories continue to “perpetuate the myth that Kiwi-made products remain elusive when they’re in fact readily available nationwide, with prescriptions steadily climbing”.
Ministry of Health figures recently showed the number of packs of products containing CBD rose from 1,891 to 2,618 between January 2021 and March 2022, with those containing THC rising from 26 to 373 and those with both cannabinoids increasing from 136 to 1,075.
While the figures cannot be used to determine the total number of prescriptions or patients, Budge said they are still encouraging.
“These are not huge numbers, but there’s a definite upward trend when you consider the total of medicinal cannabis packs supplied each month has doubled from just over 2,000 in January last year to just over 4,000 in March this year.
“GPs and pharmacists are wanting to upskill themselves as more Kiwis are asking questions and pressing for natural, plant-based solutions.”
Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics, the education sponsor of MCinfo, added: “It’s great to see [doctors] are increasingly curious and are educating themselves about the efficacy, safety, and prescription of medicinal cannabis.”
She said while the domestic market is growing, “overseas patients will also be attracted to ‘100% pure’ Kiwi products”, with Helius set to export this year.