OTTAWA, April 7, 2016 /CNW/ - The Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association (CMCIA) responded today to a call by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) for pharmacy to play a role in the management and distribution of medical cannabis.
The CMCIA believes that pharmacy may in the future play a constructive role as a complementary channel for patients to access medical cannabis. Pharmacy should not be the sole means for patients to receive their medical cannabis, since this would harm patient access, product choice and affordability.
Under Health Canada's Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), patients access medical cannabis after consultation with a physician. Patients receive a medical authorization (prescription), then choose the dried cannabis strains or cannabis oils that best address their health needs, which are delivered to patients via mail order in one to two days.
Approximately 50,000 registered patients receive medical cannabis prescribed to help manage the symptoms of a range of conditions, including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, bowel disorders, certain anxiety disorders, epilepsy and other illnesses. The number of patients is increasing by approximately 10 per cent per month.
Canada's medical cannabis system is working well for patients, with quality and safety governed by Health Canada, zero diversion of products to the black market, and more than 300 distinct products available to meet patient needs, from prices as low as $2.50 per gram of dried cannabis. The MMPR has become a model for other countries developing their own medical cannabis systems, with government officials from around the world visiting Canada to learn from its successful, well-regulated regime.
"We welcome opening discussions with the pharmacy profession and industry on how additional distribution channels may be able to help patients with different needs," said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of CMCIA. "We are pleased pharmacy is now recognizing the valuable role medical cannabis plays in helping patients deal with chronic conditions, particularly since they chose not to participate in the medical cannabis system when the MMPR was introduced in 2013."
"Pharmacy may be a valuable additional option for patients in the future, but as a complement, not as a replacement to the existing, successful direct access system," said Neil Closner, newly-elected Chair of CMCIA. "Distribution only via pharmacies would reduce access and product choice, and raise costs to patients, and could also increase the risk of diversion."
Patient advocates also expressed their concerns about pharmacy-only distribution. "Every patient has unique needs when it comes to product choice and access to their medicine," said Jonathan Zaid, founder of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM). "While we would welcome pharmacies as part of a legal, regulated medical cannabis supply chain, their inclusion cannot trump other sources of access, including the current, proven mail order system and patient self-production."
Before pharmacists would be able to dispense medical cannabis, there are a number of matters that must be addressed first. The MMPR currently does not provide for distribution via pharmacies, and amendments to the regulations would be required. In addition, pharmacies would have to meet the same stringent security, product handling, secure storage (vaults) and other regulatory requirements set out in the MMPR. Pharmacies would also have to establish the physical infrastructure to allow for management of dried cannabis, and Health Canada would have to increase the number of inspectors, in order to be able to visit and verify compliance at thousands of pharmacies across Canada.
CMCIA will be reaching out to the CPhA to begin a dialogue on how pharmacists and pharmacy can work with Licensed Producers of medical cannabis, physicians, patients and other stakeholders to expand patients' access to regulated, affordable products.
The Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association (CMCIA) is Canada's leading member-driven association for Licensed Producers (LPs) of medical cannabis. The Association represent the majority of producers currently licensed under Health Canada's Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
CMCIA's mission is to promote national standards and best practices by supporting the development, growth and integrity of the medical cannabis industry. The Association acts as the national voice for Canada's LPs, and serves as a credible and trusted resource on issues related to medical cannabis industry.
The Association shares a philosophy of patient-centric care and improved public health, and is committed to product safety and quality, secure and reliable access for registered patients, and the promotion of the safe and effective use of cannabis for medical purposes. www.cmcia.ca
SOURCE Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association
For further information: Cam Battley, Chair, Advocacy Committee, CMCIA, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905.864.5525