Victorian pharmacists to play ‘pivotal’ medicinal cannabis role


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Victorian pharmacists will play a pivotal role under proposals announced by the Victorian Government to make medicinal cannabis available to some patients under exceptional circumstances from 2017, says the PSA.

Acting National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Michelle Lynch, says that under the new regulations, pharmacists will dispense medicinal cannabis after authorisation is provided by medical specialists.

“Having pharmacists acknowledged as best-placed to dispense medicinal cannabis is welcomed as it ensures that medicines experts are available to advise and counsel patients using these products,” Lynch says.

She says there are specific eligibility requirements for the scheme based on conditions and corresponding symptoms. These are:

  • Severe muscle spasms or severe pain resulting from multiple sclerosis.
  • Severe pain, nausea, vomiting or wasting arising from cancer, HIV/AIDS.
  • Severe seizures resulting from epileptic conditions where other treatment options have failed or have intolerable side effects.
  • Severe chronic pain with the approval of two specialists.

Lynch says the Victorian move aligns with PSA’s policy on medicinal cannabis.

“PSA’s statement on the Therapeutic use of cannabis states: ‘Where under the treatment of a medical practitioner it is established that the potential therapeutic benefits outweigh the risks, PSA support the use of medicinal cannabis with appropriate medical oversight and ongoing monitoring of outcomes,’ she says.

“PSA also supports the development of an information and education program to support pharmacists in the dispensing of cannabis-based therapies and provision of information to patients, carers and prescribers.

“PSA welcomes the opportunity for pharmacists to work in collaboration with other members of the healthcare team to provide care and advice to patients using medicinal cannabis.”

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