Understanding Medical Cannabis Pricing in Australia
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to find prices for medical cannabis online?
The TGA has strict regulations when it comes to advertising medical cannabis products. This is why you won’t find product specific information (such as strain, strength or price) on clinic websites.
However, there are useful workarounds for existing patients. Platforms like Honahlee’s Catalyst allow verified patients to look at product information for many of the cannabis products available in Australia. This is a fantastic way to research whether your current medication is good value for money. So be sure not to just look at the overall price – the important number is the cost per cannabinoid content! But more on that below.
Navigating Medical Cannabis for New Patients in Australia
What about new patients who can’t verify on platforms like Catalyst?
Online discussion groups such as Reddit are surprisingly useful here. To find out more comprehensive product information, it is necessary to become a patient. After you do, clinics are allowed to disclose their product range, and you’re able to compare prices using the resource above.
Understanding the Costs of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Australia
The cost of medical cannabis in Australia can vary… a lot. It depends on things like the type of cannabis you’re consuming, dosage amount and form, frequency of use and the method of consumption.
In the CAMS-20 Study, the median weekly cost of cannabis for patient-only use was $40 AUD, and the middle 50% of participants spent between $7 and $100. This spread illustrates just how much the weekly cost of medical cannabis can vary patient-to-patient.
Patient Perspectives on Medical Cannabis Costs
Understanding the regulatory environment for medical cannabis in Australia can be daunting, as Sarah, a 45-year-old from Sydney, found out. “The TGA’s strict advertising rules made it really hard for me to find pricing and product information when I first considered medical cannabis,” Sarah shares. Her breakthrough came with discovering EasyKind, a brand that, within regulatory constraints, provided clearer information. “EasyKind helped me navigate through the confusion with more transparency, particularly about costs, which was crucial given the rising living expenses,” she explains. Sarah’s experience highlights not just the challenges posed by regulations but also how patient-focused solutions can make a real difference in accessing medical cannabis.
Key Factors to Consider When Calculating Treatment Costs
· Initial consultation cost
· Follow-up consultation costs
· The cost of the medication
A common patient experience is to have an initial consultation, a one-month follow-up consultation, and then return consultations every 3-6 months. To calculate the expected consultation costs for the first year of treatment, it is simply (1 x cost of initial consultation) + (3 x return consultation cost). Of course, it is up to the discretion of the medical professional to determine the frequency of consultations, so this won’t be the same for everyone.
The average yearly cost for consultations is between $150 and $300.
You’ll find the range for initial consultations are typically between $80 and $200, and $50 – $150 for returns.
Some clinics can also have hidden fees which you should be mindful about. These are things like:
· Excessive postage fees
· Script transfer fees
· TGA Application fees
· ‘Medication outside of product range’ fees
It’s important to ask about any back-end costing before determining what clinic is best for you.
Calculating the Cost of the Medication
When it comes to the cost of medical cannabis in Australia, it’s important to look beyond the initial price tag and consider the amount of THC and CBD you’re consuming. An oil costing $200 might be expensive, or it might not. It all depends on the price per milligram of THC or CBD.
To calculate the actual cost of the prescription, you can divide the price by the total mg of cannabinoids.
Here’s a couple of examples to illustrate:
1. ‘Product A’ is an oil in a 30 ml bottle. Inside, it contains 50 mg per ml of CBD oil. The total cost is $150.
· The total mg of cannabinoids is 1500 mg (30 ml x 50 mg/ml).
· Therefore, the actual cost is $150/1500 = $0.10 per mg of CBD.
2. ‘Product B’ is an oil in a 50 ml bottle. Inside, it contains 100 mg per ml of CBD oil. The total cost is $300.
· The total mg of cannabinoids is 5000 mg (50 ml x 100 mg/ml).
· Therefore, the actual cost is $300/5000 = $0.06 per mg of CBD.
In the above example, product A costs half as much as product B to purchase, but it is actually much more expensive when it comes to actual cannabinoid content.
It’s important to understand the above calculations when working out the cost of your medication, or you might find yourself spending more than you need to in the long run.
What is a reasonable cost for the medication?
If you are paying more than $0.10 for a CBD only formulation, or more than $0.15 for a balanced THC:CBD formulation, it is likely that you’re spending too much.
For flower, a general price range is between $13 and $18 per gram. Typically, price increases with the amount of THC in the flower.
Online platforms like Catalyst are a great tool to compare your current prescription with other medications in the market. Just remember to compare the cost per cannabinoid, as opposed to the total cost!
Medical Cannabis vs Black Market Cannabis
There has been a notable shift from illicit to prescribed medical cannabis in recent years, as evidenced by the TGA’s publicly available data on medical cannabis prescriptions.
This trend can be explained in part by the reduced price of medical cannabis products over recent years.
FreshLeaf Analytics found that the average monthly cost for medical cannabis continues to trend downward, even with patient dosage increasing.
This means that for the first time since legalisation, medical cannabis is price competitive with cannabis acquired through the black market. It’s an exciting time to be a patient, and prices are only going to reduce as the Australian cannabis industry expands.
Is Medical Cannabis Expensive?
Patients looking to access medical cannabis in Australia should do their research to find a reputable clinic or prescriber that offers fair pricing. Medical cannabis treatment can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you have any questions or concerns about the cost of medical cannabis in Australia, please reach out to us at Cannabate or speak with your healthcare provider.