New comprehensive guidance on medicinal cannabis

For the first time, Australian prescribers of medicinal cannabis will have access to up-to-date information to help inform their decision-making about patient treatment options for a number of conditions.

Page last updated: 02 January 2018

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22 December 2017

For the first time, Australian prescribers of medicinal cannabis will have access to up-to-date information to help inform their decision-making about patient treatment options for a number of conditions.

The Turnbull Government has today released five disease-specific clinical guidance documents, developed as the first set of considered information available for general practitioners and specialists in Australia.

The documents provide clinical information on the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis and guidance for its use in treating symptoms for a number of conditions.

Five conditions which had the largest number of studies were chosen. These are:

    • palliative care
    • multiple sclerosis
    • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
    • chronic non-cancer pain
    • epilepsy.
The set of guidances also includes an overview document on the use of medicinal cannabis for medical professionals.

A summary document on the evidence and use of medicinal cannabis for patients has also been developed.

In recent years, a growing number of Australians have shown interest in using medicinal cannabis to treat the symptoms of a number of chronic conditions.

GPs, specialists and consumers have been calling for information about medicinal cannabis, and its use and effectiveness to treat certain conditions.

These documents will help the patient and doctor make a joint decision about whether medicinal cannabis is the right treatment option for their individual circumstances.

The decision to use medicinal cannabis products to treat symptoms is made on a case-by-case basis and is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

A number of clinical trials are under way in Australia and across the world focusing on medicinal cannabis products and their efficacy.

The results of these trials will be used to update the Australian guidance documents as new evidence emerges.

A team of academics from the Universities of New South Wales, Sydney and Queensland – co-ordinated by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre – reviewed the available clinical evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis that had been published since 1980.

A range of organisations from across Australia were involved in developing the guidance documents, including:
    • 18 patient and consumer representative groups
    • All state and territory health departments
    • 15 health care professional organisations
    • clinical staff from 29 hospitals and health care systems
    • 14 outpatient or primary health networks.
The documents have been endorsed by the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis.

The Turnbull Government has taken unprecedented steps to allow faster access by qualified doctors to medicinal cannabis for patients with the necessary approvals.

We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.

We recognise that access to medicinal cannabis is of vital importance to many Australians. But we are committed to ensuring this is done in a way that is safe and responsible.

For more information on medicinal cannabis products visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s website.

(ENDS)

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