Victoria has reimposed a state-based approval process for medicinal cannabis prescriptions in a move that could again hamper patient access to medication.
For the past 12 months, GPs have only needed TGA sign-off to prescribe cannabis following a Covid-triggered Public Health Emergency Order.
But the streamlined process, which applied to Schedule 8 medicines and had been welcomed by prescribers and patients, came to end on Sunday when the emergency order expired.
An earlier expiration date of September 27, 2020 had previously been extended to March 27. But no further extension was granted, meaning the return of another layer of red tape.
It is feared the administrative burden of requiring both state and federal approval could delay the dispensing of medication or put off doctors altogether.
A memo sent by the Victorian Government to prescribers, and seen by Cannabiz, spells out the requirement for prescribers to again seek state permission.
The government memo says: “This PHEO [public health emergency order] was put in place on 26 March 2020 in response [to] the Covid-19 pandemic and it removed the requirement for Schedule 8 permits for non-drug dependent patients conditional on prescribers taking all reasonable steps to check the SafeScript [the Victorian Government’s real-time prescription monitoring system].
“This email is to advise that the Schedule 8 permit Public Health Emergency Order (PHEO #6) will expire on 27 March 2021.”