The Commonwealth Government's medicinal cannabis policy now allows doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis products to their patients.
Prescribing medicinal cannabis products in Victoria follows the same requirements as all other pharmaceutical medicines, but the process will vary depending on the type of product and whether it is an approved medicine registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
As most medicinal cannabis products are not approved, before prescribing, a doctor will generally be required to gain approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) through either the TGA's Special Access Scheme (SAS) or by becoming an Authorised Prescriber (AP).
Learn more about prescribing medicinal cannabis.
Currently, there are two medicinal cannabis products, namely, Nabiximols (Sativex®) and Epidyolex registered on the ARTG for therapeutic use in Australia. Sativex has been approved for symptom improvement in patients with moderate to severe spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS). Epidyolex has been approved for use by patients as adjunctive therapy for seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
Victorian treatment permit for Schedule 8 medicines
If the medicinal cannabis product is also a schedule 8 controlled drug (containing >2% THC), then a Victorian Schedule 8 treatment permit may be required. However, no schedule 8 treatment permit is required for patients that are classified as receiving palliative care.
Victorian (Schedule 8) and Commonwealth (TGA) approvals required to prescribe Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products not listed on the ARTG can now be sought together via the TGA's single online application.
Product availability and supply
A list of Australian licensed manufacturers, suppliers and products available can be found on the Office of Drug Control (ODC) website.
If the medicinal cannabis product is not on the current ODC suppliers and products list, doctors should ensure the sponsor (pharmacist or supplier) is prepared to source it for them from overseas. If the sponsor wishes to import the product, it must hold an ODC import licence.
If doctors wish to directly import a specific medicinal cannabis product for their patients, they will need to identify the overseas suppliers and directly apply for an import licences and permits from the ODC to bring the products into Victoria.
Medicinal cannabis products are not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Annual treatment costs must be met by the patient or a third party. Information regarding the cost of products may be obtained directly from the suppliers listed on the ODC website.
Once the relevant Commonwealth and Victorian approvals are obtained, any registered medical practitioner is able to prescribe medicinal cannabis for any patient with any condition, if they believe it is clinically appropriate.
Page last updated: 4 May 2021