Approvals of medicinal cannabis prescriptions hit their second highest total of the year last month with high-THC accounting for almost half the number.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) rubber stamped 11,870 applications through category B of the Special Access Scheme in October, a figure only bettered in 2023 in August.

It takes the year-to-date total to 110,650, well on course to surpass the 117,000 approvals in 2022 and 122,000 in 2021.

The 2023 bar represents the calendar year to date

Category five medicines – comprising 98% THC – accounted for 46% of October approvals, followed by category one – CBD-only products – with 19%.

Almost two thirds of high-THC approvals were for patients aged 18-44, with 37% of those prescribed it for anxiety, for which there is little evidence of efficacy.

Victoria continued to lead the way, generating 43% of SAS-B applications, the fifth consecutive month the state has relegated Queensland to second spot.

The sunshine state accounted for 40% of approvals, with New South Wales a distant third on 13%.

Oil remained the most-prescribed dosage form (50%) followed by flower which captured 38% of the market.

In line with previous months, chronic pain was the most common condition treated with medicinal cannabis (44%), ahead of anxiety (31%) and sleep disorder (9%).

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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