Australian Medical Marijuana Prescriptions Steady Amid COVID-19

Medicinal cannabis approvals in Australia via the Special Access Scheme Category B route saw 3,378 prescriptions for the month of April 2020.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought the Australian economy to a halt, with nearly 1 million Australians now unemployed, and economic activity pegged to fall by roughly 10 percent for the first half of 2020. The RBA predicts the impacts from the COVID-19 shutdowns will last upward of two years following the beginning of the pandemic, with restriction measures costing the government $4 billion per week to maintain.

As such, one could expect the growth of the bourgeoning Australian cannabis industry to take a big hit during this time of decreased economic activity, given the nascent nature of the industry. However, the recent statistics from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) tell a different story.

The TGA statistics show that approvals for cannabis-derived medicines through the Special Access Scheme have remained relatively steady amid the COVID-19 crisis, showing a decline from March's record-high month of prescriptions, but remaining higher than January's prescription numbers.

This suggests, as we've seen in both America and Canada with the designation of cannabis dispensaries as "essential," in addition to increased cannabis sales, that Australians similarly place a high value on their cannabis medicines, and will continue to use them throughout this pandemic. That is to say, while people are cutting their spending, medical marijuana products remain in the equation.

This phenomenon of continued dedication to cannabis medicines was experienced by Australian cannabis company Althea Group Holdings, who experienced record growth for the March quarter despite the ongoing crisis.

On the SAS-B figures, Rhys Cohen, the principal consultant for FreshLeaf Analytics stated that "despite unprecedented economic uncertainty and hardship Australians continue to seek these products out and that's very encouraging for the industry."

This data was made available thanks to an exclusive data collaboration between The Green Fund and Freshleaf Analytics.

FreshLeaf Analytics, a division of Southern Cannabis Holdings, is the leading supplier of data about the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia. We have access to medicinal cannabis product, pricing and clinical data sets from some of Australia's leading healthcare companies and organizations including healthcare clinics, pharmacies, product suppliers and the TGA. The FreshLeaf Analytics team provides custom research, analysis and consulting services in the Medicinal Cannabis market in Australia. The FreshLeaf Analytics team can be contacted on +61 2 8203 8741 or [email protected]

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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