Cost of medical cannabis in Australia
One of the major barriers to access of medicinal cannabis in Australia is the cost associated with the product. The most common complaint with patients using medicinal cannabis in Australia is that it is too expensive.
If you are considering medicinal cannabis as a treatment option it is important to consider the costs involved and mention if price sensitivity is an issue when discussing options with your medical practitioner.
The cost of medicinal cannabis can vary greatly and depends on:
- a patient’s condition – some patients may need more than others depending on their requirements.
- a patient’s endocannabinoid system – similarly to other medicines, some patients will react differently to cannabis and may require more or less product.
- if the patient is taking other medications in addition to the medicinal cannabis.
- the medicinal cannabis product which has been prescribed – product costs are stipulated by manufacturers and sponsors. Like any product, some can cost more than others.
Manufacturers and sponsors prices are affected by such factors as:
- the type of the cannabis product (flower, oils, concentrates, etc.)
- the quality and potency of the cannabis plant (CBD/THC percentages)
- the method of producing the cannabis product
- the amount of required testing to ensure quality
- the legality and government regulations
- the number of companies involved and additional processing
- wholesale and pharmacy fees
Keeping the above in mind, it is estimated that medical cannabis on average costs less than $10 per day (sourced by FreshLeaf Analytics H2 2021: FreshLeaf Analytics | Australian Cannabis Industry Insights). As there is currently only one subsidy available from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme this means that costs will be worn entirely by the patient.
The subsidy that is available from the PBS covers Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) or Dravet syndrome (DS) in infancy (SMEI), for patients 2 years of age and older.
Health Insurance Rebates
Health insurers, like HIF are starting to offer rebates for medical cannabis prescriptions. HIF and Little Green Pharma have partnered to reduce patient costs and HIF will pay a benefit towards medicinal cannabis products if a member’s Extras cover includes Pharmacy. The benefits are payable from 9th September 2020. Benefits are payable under the Pharmacy Limit and are subject to individual policy limits and waiting periods. Members can refer to their applicable policy fact sheet at hif.com.au for details on their eligibility and individual benefit.
Where Little Green Pharma products are prescribed, HIF members receive an additional $25* benefit per script until 30 September 2022.
*The additional $25 benefit is not applicable to HIF members that are registered in the Quest Initiative as they will receive subsidised products directly through the study.
If you are with another health insurer please contact them direct and ask if they pay a benefit towards medicinal cannabis prescriptions.