Certain forms of cannabidiol (CBD) medicines can now be legally purchased without a prescription in New Zealand. But as is the case across the pond in Australia, it could be some time before approved products are available.
Back in 2020, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) decided approved low-dose CBD products could be supplied over-the-counter by a pharmacist without a prescription from February 2021. More than two years on and such products are yet to be made available given the regulatory hurdles that must be cleared in order for potentially eligible medicines to secure Schedule 3 (pharmacist-only) status.
This week, the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) reclassified some types of CBD medicines from prescription-only to a restricted (pharmacist-only) medicine. The decision came after Medsafe’s review of the risk-benefit profile of access to low-dose CBD.
“The reclassification will allow supply of approved low-dose CBD medicines, by registered pharmacists, without prescription for patients aged 18 years and older under certain conditions,” says Medsafe. “Only CBD medicines approved under the Medicines Act 1981 will be available from a registered pharmacist.”
In harmony with the decision by Australia’s TGA, the maximum dosage instructions must be for 150 milligrams of CBD or less per day. Each pack will have no more than 4.5 grams on CBD in total.
But as in Australia, there are currently no approved low-dose CBD medicines available in New Zealand. However, a number of companies are racing to get qualifying products to market in Australia, and with New Zealand now on board there’s some extra incentive to get prospective S3 CBD medicines across the line sooner rather than later.
In Australia during the first half of this year, more than 59,000 new patients were reported as having commenced treatment with prescribed medical cannabis products with a cannabinoid profile of 98% or more CBD according to TGA statistics. Some of these patients may benefit from low-dose CBD products once they are available; avoiding the need for a prescription.
On a related note, in August this year New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency announced major changes to the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme designed to support economic and research opportunities for the local industry.