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Australian GP's reluctance to prescribe medical cannabis

The number of medicinal cannabis prescriptions has surged 300 per cent nation-wide in the past year.


More than a third of chronic pain sufferers have asked a GP about medical cannabis as a treatment option but many say they've faced reluctance, survey results show.


Doctors typically cite cost and a lack of knowledge about how to access the treatment, as the main reasons for their negativity, according to a nationwide poll conducted by Chronic Pain Australia.

The not-for-profit, non-government organisation in June interviewed 2233 Australians about their health experiences over the previous 12 months and found 38.8 per cent had asked a GP about medicinal cannabis.


It notes one-in-five Australians live with chronic pain, while one-in-five medical consultations involve a patient with chronic pain.

The number of medicinal cannabis prescriptions has surged 300 per cent across Australia in the past year, CPA said.


One survey respondent said his doctor declined to prescribe the medication "due to not knowing enough about the process to access it", although they did offer information about who else to speak to.


Another person said their GP thought medical cannabis "a great idea but too expensive", while one patient said their doctor "didn't have much knowledge about it".


"This was a new GP whom I want to take over my care, not my existing one, and he said his only concerns were the cost, and that he'd feel awful if he prescribed it for someone and they paid hundreds of dollars only to find it didn't work for them," one survey respondent said.


Justin Sinclair, a naturopath from Western Sydney University's NICM Health Research Institute, says there needs to be more formalised training available to doctors.


"Education around the therapeutic activity of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system should be embedded in the medical curriculum and not just offered as a postgraduate choice," he said.


Mr Sinclair, who is also chief scientific officer at Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, said the reluctance among doctors usually stems from lack of knowledge.


"Doctors may not want to prescribe cannabis because they don't know enough about it and what they did learn in their university courses mainly focused on the associated harms," he said.


"If they don't know enough about the medicine, they will be less likely to stick their neck out, which is completely understandable."

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has just announced low-dose CBD oil can be purchased over the counter. Originally published here: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7375949/reluctance-to-prescribe-medical-cannabis/


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