Patients in New Zealand may now find it easier to access a cheaper alternative to one of only (now) three cannabis medicines permitted for use in the country.
Up until the weekend, one of the only approved products was Sativex, which costs around NZD $1,100 per prescription.
New Zealand Government’s has approved an application for a non-registered cannabis-based product; which will be supplied by Canada-based Tilray. It’s understood that its product will cost around half the price of Sativex.
Tilray is already supplying several patients in Australia with its products through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Special Access Scheme.
Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ) applauded the news.
“The approval of this application demonstrates that the New Zealand Government has acknowledged this alternative treatment and is listening to its constituency,” said Shane Le Brun, Coordinator of MCANZ.
The application was made on behalf of Dr Huhana Hickey, who is a senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology and an Order of Merit recipient.
“I’m so relieved. It’s going to save me $700 a month,” said Dr. Hickey, who has multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Hickey states cannabis is very effective in managing her condition and she experiences no side effects.
“I’m living my life again. I’m back to work, I am fully-functioning,” she said.
The approval of the Tilray product is the third in the country, the others being for Sativex (some years ago) and more recently Aceso Calm Spray in April, a cannabidiol (CBD) based therapy.
The approvals don’t mean the products are readily available on pharmacy shelves, but they may pave the way for faster application processing from the Health Ministry for eligible patients seeking to use them.
In other related news, tributes have been flowing in after the death of trade unionist and medical cannabis crusader, Helen Kelly. Ms. Kelly had been using cannabis to alleviate the pain associated with her terminal cancer.
Rose Renton, another well- known NZ medical marijuana campaigner, said Ms. Kelly’s passion helped inspire her.
“Helen gives strength to whatever cause she is involved in and us – a community and a group – she gave us that,” stated Ms. Renton.