Telehealth platform Candor has launched virtual cannabis consultations for Australian patients alongside its existing services.
After a free screening to test eligibility, patients are charged A$89 for an initial consultation with a RACGP-registered doctor, with follow-ups at $59 each.
Consultations are held via an online form that the doctor reviews, with the patient able to ask questions via a messaging app.
The company said: “Eligible patients will be able to access medical cannabis via an online consultation with Candor’s qualified GPs, with medicine shipped to their door at standard pharmacy rates.”
Candor’s doctors apply for approval under the SAS-B pathway.
Founder and managing director Dr Lisa Beckett told Cannabiz: “Our consultations are designed to ensure safe prescribing, acting with AI to mimic a GP consult… followed up with direct doctor-patient communication.”
“If further information such as health summaries or specialist letters are required, these can be uploaded by the patient,” she added.
Asked about industry concerns over the quality of oversight some online ordering services provide for patients, Beckett said: “We are selective about when we will prescribe. If a patient is unsuitable for online prescribed medicinal cannabis (or any other treatment) due to safety concerns, we will communicate this to [them].
“We can provide a letter with recommendations to their regular GP if it would be more suitable for them to be treated in person.
“Ultimately, our doctors need to feel confident that they have all appropriate information to prescribe. This may involve requesting letters from specialists/health summaries or investigation reports. We don’t prescribe to under-18s or provide treatment for epilepsy as we feel this is best provided through a neurologist.
“While technology is incredible at assisting us with healthcare and is the way of the future, at present there are still limitations and we are conscious of these.”
In order to be eligible for treatment, patients must have a health condition that has lasted more than three months which they have tried unsuccessfully to treat via other means.
However, Candor’s website warns: “While these factors indicate you may be eligible, they don’t guarantee approval. For example, if you take medications that interact negatively with cannabis it may be deemed unsuitable for you.”
It lists the treatments for which medicinal cannabis has been prescribed as “including (but not limited to) chronic pain, depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, migraines, insomnia, fibromyalgia, chemotherapy side effects, and irritable bowel syndrome”.
The firm said it “encourages all patients to have a regular GP, especially those using medicinal cannabis”.
“Candor also advises communicating with a regular GP whenever patients are starting or changing medication, and keeping good communication around any medical history changes.”
Beckett said: “Candor provides a consultation summary/correspondence letter to the patient’s regular GP to keep them informed of any prescriptions and any impacts this may have on their medical conditions/medications.
“We also update the regular GP after all review appointments with regards to how the patient is responding to treatment and any alterations to their plan. GPs are welcome to contact us with questions or concerns they may have.”
She claimed online services and telehealth “allow doctors to provide convenient consultations to patients and can ease the demand for GPs”.
The pandemic has turned telehealth from “a rarity into a necessity”, she added.
Beckett told Cannabiz Candor has applied to join Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) and the Emerging Therapeutics Association of Australia (ETAA).
MCIA executive manager Rosemary Richards confirmed Candor has expressed interest in joining the association and said its application would be subject to standard approval processes. ETAA chair Guy Headley said it has also received an application enquiry from the company.