Medical cannabis approvals in 2019 power through the 25,000 mark

The final data set for 2019 Special Access Scheme Category B approvals for medical cannabis has been released with 3,682 approvals issued in December.

That brings the total for the 2019 calendar year to 25,202 approvals. For context, prior to January 2019 there had only been around 2,500 approvals issued.

This doesn't necessarily mean that 25,000 different people got access to medical cannabis in 2019. It is common for medical cannabis patients to get more than one approval due to approvals expiring and needing to be renewed. Patients may also be taking more than one medication at once, and each product requires separate approval. And sometimes products may be out of stock or doctors may choose to change medication due to side-effects or a lack of efficacy, which would also require a new approval.

Australian Cannabis Industry SAS-B approval numbers December 2019

The FreshLeaf patient model, which accounts for these variables as well as patient attrition (drop-off) rates, estimates that we closed off 2019 with just over 10,500 currently active patients. We expect that to grow to about 15,000 active patients by the end of Q1 2020. The 12-month forecast currently estimates 30,000-50,000 active patients by the end of 2020, representing an annualised turnover of product sales in excess of $100 million.

One interesting trend coming out of the TGA's patient access figures has been the decline in the number of medical cannabis Authorised Prescribers. In December 2018 the number of medical cannabis APs was sitting around 54. In December 2019 the TGA reported that there were only 22 APs. So it looks like a number of doctors have let their authorisation lapse, probably due to the improvements in the SAS-B process and the product choice the SAS-B pathway allows. FreshLeaf has covered this trend in detail and we still expect AP status to become more popular in the coming months.

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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Mark Bernberg
Mark Bernberg

Mark Bernberg is a long-time cannabis investing enthusiast and founder of The Green Fund, Asia Pacific's preeminent media house, positioned at the forefront of the global cannabis industry.

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