Doctors Unsure How To Prescribe “Wonder Drug”

13:59' 04-07-2018
In 2016 Victoria became the first Australian state to commit to the establishment of legal medicinal cannabis pathways for patients in need. Within a year, all other states had followed.

    Kết quả hình ảnh cho medicinal cannabis

    Photo: thenewdaily.com.au

    However, even though most Australian doctors support the use of medicinal cannabis, they are reluctant to prescribe it, through lack of knowledge. A study by the University of Sydney, reported in SA's InDaily, said 86% of 640 GPs surveyed felt their knowledge about medicinal cannabis was inadequate.

    Only just over a quarter felt comfortable even discussing it with patients, while about two thirds “strongly disagreed” that they knew how to access the drug for patients.

    Professor Iain McGregor, academic director of the study, said the findings demonstrated an urgent need to educate and train GPs. “Despite recent policy announcements, fewer than 800 patients have accessed legal medicinal cannabis in Australia,” he said.

    This lack of certainty was noted as far back as January 2017 on Buzzfeed, and is not limited to Australia. Similar findings have been reported in the US. In June 2017, Melbourne hosted a three-day symposium on the pharmaceutical use of cannabis, attended by specialists from Australia and all over the world.

    A major cause of the problem is the drug itself. Each cannabis plant has up to 100 different cannabinoids, the chemical compounds which provide its medicinal quality. This makes it a complex drug to understand.

    The recreational use of cannabis has also given it a poor reputation as a substance of abuse. In many people's eyes, it is as bad as heroin or methamphetamine. For years this made many politicians uneasy about merely discussing it, let alone legalising it.

    It is also possible that many GPs see cannabinoids as best for conditions like epilepsy or cancer-related pain, and refer patients to appropriate specialists. GPs are legally able to prescribe cannabinoids for other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, but are not likely to refer a patient to a specialist in such cases.

    This has driven some patients to access the drug themselves, either from overseas or from home cultivators. Both practices are of course illegal, and not without some risk of danger.

    From April this year, health ministers of all states agreed to make cannabis available through a single approval process under the Therapeutic Goods Administration, avoiding duplication with state authorities.

    Victoria's own Medical Cannabis Industry Development Strategy plans to grow the state’s emerging medicinal cannabis industry into an established sector, supplying half of Australia by 2028. The world’s largest medicinal cannabis company, Canopy Growth Corporation, will establish its Asia-Pacific headquarters, research and development centre here.

    However, the increasing availability of medicinal cannabis will be of little benefit, unless the right steps are taken to educate doctors, as well as the general public.

    Span Hanna

     

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Keywords: australian statemedicinal cannabisvictoria

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