A UK project that aimed to cut the costs of medical cannabis while collecting valuable data is about to jack up its prices.
Project Twenty21 was launched back in 2019 to establish not only the UK’s largest body of evidence for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis, but also a clear pathway for patients to access it at reduced prices.
An initial maximum price cap of £150 was set for Twenty21’s Formulary products, which included 30g of cannabis flower – so £5 per gram. In smaller quantities, flower was charged at £65 for 10g (£6.50 per gram).
Project Twenty21 partnered with licensed producers to subsidise the cost, but patients needed to consent to have their medical data collected by Drug Science, the organisation behind the initiative.
“In the two years since, we have seen the cost of a medical cannabis prescription reduce dramatically and have no doubt that Project Twenty21 has been instrumental in encouraging this change,” says Drug Science.
Among the other benefits of the program were the publishing of important findings, gaining media coverage for medicinal cannabis and getting in the ears of politicians regarding the inequities in access.
The program had an ambitious goal of reaching 20,000 patients by the end of 2021, but at that point only 2,000 patients were registered.
The study was due to wrap up at the end of last year, but has been extended through to the end of 2022 at this point. Eligibility has also been expanded to include anyone with any diagnosed condition that can be treated with medical cannabis; assuming they can meet other eligibility conditions.
Something else that has changed is pricing. New pricing to be introduced from the beginning of February will be set per gram for flower and per millilitre for oil regardless of quantity. And the price difference is significant – £7 per gram of flower and per millilitre of oil. So, it’s quite a jump for those who were benefiting from the £5 per gram structure for larger quantities.
“The decision has only been taken to ensure that Project Twenty21 can continue, remain competitive, and that our producers can keep supplying the highest quality medicines to enrolled patients,” says Drug Science.
Understandably, not everyone is happy with the change – Drug Science has copped a bit of flak on its Facebook page; with some claiming it will be cheaper to source cannabis on the black market.
Drug Science was founded in 2010 by Professor David Nutt. Professor Nutt was previously Chair of the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.