Trends in Medicinal Cannabis Prescription

Medical cannabis has been legally accessible via prescription since 2016 in Australia through various special access schemes, but our understanding of how much medicinal cannabis is being prescribed, and for what reasons, has been limited. A significant new study from researchers at the University of Sydney helps to shed light on prescription patterns and use.

The researchers obtained data from the Therapeutic Goods Administration which routinely collects information on how and to whom medicinal cannabis is being prescribed. They found the top reasons for prescription were pain, anxiety and sleep disorders, with other common reasons being post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy.

Before 2019, prescriptions were most often granted to people older than 45, but the number of approvals for younger patients is increasing over time. The proportion of men and women being prescribed medicinal cannabis is also changing – in January 2020, 53.7 per cent of prescriptions were for women but that proportion decreased to 37.4 per cent just 18 months later.

Other interesting trends in the data were that Queensland prescribers were responsible for more than half of national prescriptions, though it was unclear why this is the case. The rapid growth in prescriptions over time was also very clear, with 85 per cent of prescriptions in the dataset given since January 2020.   

For more information on medical cannabis including links to your local health authority website  visit https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis

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