Patients face supply shortage as demand for medicinal cannabis surges in Australia

Patients in Australia are facing an urgent supply shortage as demand for medicinal cannabis surges.

The demand for medical cannabis in Australia has more than doubled over the past year with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approving almost 100,000 applications in 2020.

In March 2021, the TGA approved more than 8,000 applications for restricted prescriptions for medicinal cannabis under the Special Access Scheme.

The supply shortage has left many patients without access to their prescribed medications therefore leading to implications with their health and treatment plans.

"Continuity of supply is crucially important for medicinal cannabis patients which is why in New Zealand, regulators have granted two 6 month extensions to their transitional period. Once that transition is finally complete, then it will take close collaboration between producers, manufacturers, and distributors to ensure a secure supply chain and product availability for patients." - Will Douglas, COO at NUBU Pharmaceuticals

Brisbane mother Lanai Carter spoke to 9 News about the impact that the supply issue has had on her son Lindsay Carter, 22, who uses medicinal cannabis to treat seizures brought on by a brain tumour that was diagnosed in 2013.

For years, Lindsay has been using both medicinal cannabis oil and cannabis flower to manage his seizures.

Mrs Carter says the difference the treatment makes for her son is life changing.

"When we can get the treatment he needs his seizure levels got down as low as one seizure in a week," she said.

"Without medical cannabis oil, he can have between five tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures a day and up to 20 focal seizures in a day."

Without the Special Access Scheme the family would be facing up to $8000 per month for Lindsay's treatment and have often had to rely on donations to afford his medical treatment.

Lack of access and affordability are two barriers stopping patients from exploring and experiencing medicinal cannabis treatment in Australia and New Zealand.