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NZ Doctors' Interest in Medicinal Cannabis Grows

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

A leading medicinal cannabis online education platform is encouraged by the strong interest it’s now seeing from New Zealand’s key healthcare professionals. It follows genuine concern that doctors lack sufficient knowledge about medicinal cannabis to prescribe it to patients.

About 1,250 doctors and pharmacists have now registered on – a dedicated medicinal cannabis information service. The comprehensive online resource has been built and run by DATAPHARM. Director Don Budge says healthcare professionals have jumped into action due to increasing patient enquiries with Kiwi-made products now a reality.

Three years ago, Parliament passed legislation to allow for the creation of a local medicinal cannabis industry to deliver high-quality, yet more affordable products, for Kiwi patients. Every New Zealand doctor can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition, yet most surveyed have reported they need to be better informed about it.

“Interest from both patients and prescribers about medicinal cannabis has slowly been building in recent years. However, with two local products now available and with two local producers GMP Licenced to Manufacture Medicines, with others to follow, it has suddenly become a lot more real,” says Mr Budge.

Registration to MCinfo is free for doctors and pharmacists. The initiative also sees highly trained representatives on the road to better inform healthcare professionals about medicinal cannabis. Helius is the Education sponsor of MCinfo and as New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company is thrilled with the uptake so far.

“Helius is absolutely committed to medicinal cannabis education, with doctors and pharmacists’ knowledge key to improved patient access. It’s great to see many more healthcare professionals now genuinely curious and actively educating themselves. This is really good news for New Zealand patients,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

While patients and the public can access MCinfo’s up-to-the-minute information on the use, potential benefits and risks of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other medicinal cannabinoid products, only MCinfo-registered doctors and pharmacists can access the prescribers’ portal.

There they will obtain access to dedicated resources including MCinfo’s clinical fact sheets and a series of Zoom presentations. The next one will be held on Wednesday, 1 December, with a presentation from Dr Ali Seyfoddin, Associate Professor in Drug Delivery and Biological Engineering at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). He will present on ‘Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of medicinal cannabis: What we know and where we are heading.’

Mr Budge says as well as the virtual resources MCinfo provides, and having reps visiting doctors, MCinfo has had stands at GPCME (General Practice and Medical Conference Exhibition) and the Independent Pharmacy Conference. Its next stand will be at Medcan Summit 2022.

MedCan 2022 will take place on 10 and 11 February at Auckland’s Cordis hotel, with Helius the foundation sponsor. Doctor registrations for this have also been strong.

The industry summit will have a key focus on prescriber education, including a one-day Healthcare Professional Forum where experts will present on the endocannabinoid system, clinical data, the applications and prescribing of medicinal cannabis in medical practice.

“Next year is a big year for our country’s newest sunrise sector. Kiwis will see more local products on the market, with Helius unleashing its export strategy. Initiatives like MedCan and MCinfo are increasingly important if we’re to satisfy patient demand and address so many people’s quality of life. Afterall, Helius believes every New Zealander deserves the right to a pain-free existence,” says Carmen Doran.

Recently Helius announced an education partnership with AUT, which sees the company sponsor three AUT PhD students to research and develop advanced medicinal cannabis products, overseen by Dr Ali Seyfoddin.

DATAPHARM’s Don Budge says the industry’s leadership and collaboration to improve medicinal cannabis education and prescriber knowledge remains critical.

“We’re really encouraged by the number of MCinfo registrations we’re now getting. Doctors and pharmacists told us they were keen for a single trusted source of information with real-time access to medicinal cannabis’ ongoing global developments. That’s exactly what we’re now providing, and it’s working for them,” says Don Budge.
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