Available, accessible and increasingly affordable

Growing our portfolio of cannabis medicines in difficult times

Alex Fraser

In a world dominated by Corona virus, self-isolation, lock-downs and stockpiling, first of all it is important to state that cannabis medicines are as accessible as ever.

Based on a recent YouGov poll there are at least 1 million people in the UK already using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Illegally. Other research indicates that, based on incidence of diseases, there will be an equivalent number of very ill people with a number of diseases who would potentially benefit greatly from gaining access to cannabis medicines. These include (but are not limited to); treatment resistant chronic pain, neurological and cancer pain, treatment resistant severe epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chemo-induced nausea and vomiting, autism and many other different disabling diseases and debilitating symptoms.

Cannabis medicines are legally available through private prescriptions from specialists. This means that your current NHS specialist or GP can refer you to a private doctor or clinic to review your case and potentially prescribe cannabis medicines. We have talked about that process in a separate blog on our Grow Biotech/Logist Pharma website and will soon publish a guide for patients in cooperation with leading patient organisations.

One of the ever growing number of clinics we work with are Cannabis Access Clinics. These clinics provide online consultations and are very competitive with their consultation pricing. Cannabis Access Clinics have embraced telemedicine and are fully set-up to cater for patients with restricted ability to travel or attend face-to-face meetings. Importantly they now run a free eligibility service for potential patients. You can read more about telemedicine and how these systems can help patients in this blog. Our home delivery service also means that both consultations and receiving your prescription can happen safely.

There are still some limits to current systems. Namely, that suppliers are limited in what we can promote publicly when we talk about our range of medicines. When cannabis medicines were rescheduled in 2018 there was a lot of media attention which focused on the limited availability and high cost of medicines. Since then there has been very little media attention on the actual cannabis medicines that people across the range of diseases are taking. Not to mention the fact that prices have dropped significantly since first import. Last November we reported an average reduction in price of 33%. This trend has since continued, thanks in part to recent changes in the legislation surrounding import. Medicinal Cannabis is becoming more and more affordable, reduction in cost of the products and reduction in consultation fees contribute to that.

We completed the first bulk import of cannabis medicines into the UK in February 2019, specifically two flower products from Dutch supplier Bedrocan. We continue to work with bedrocan as well as Canadian giant Tilray on ad-hoc import of a small selection of products.

It is less known however that the vast majority of our portfolio comes from three sterling producers we have brought onboard throughout the last year. Grow Biotech and Logist now act as their exclusive UK distributor. Namely these are: Aurora Cannabis – another Canadian giant, MGC Pharma – Australian market leaders with operations in Eastern Europe and Columbia Care – an exemplary producer from New York State.

We therefore now carry a very broad portfolio of medicines that range from CBD-only to high THC, with both isolate-based and full-profile products. The products are broadly speaking categorised based on their ratio of THC versus CBD. For example, those with the highest THC content have a ratio of 22:1 with 22% THC and 1% CBD. Other ratios range from 20:1 to 15:1 to 10:1 to 5:1, 1:1 to 1:4 to 1:20. Currently these come in the form of flowers (inhaled via vaporiser) and oral and sublingual oils but we expect oil (cartridge) vaporiser devices, oral capsules and even powders (to be added to food or drink) to be made available in 2020.

In our pharmacy we can also make almost any specific “bespoke” ratio in between those listed above or even up to 1:100 (high CBD with a little bit of THC). These medicines aren’t at all comparable to the products that you can buy over-the-counter in pharmacies and health stores. Those Over-the-counter products cannot contain THC, often have low concentrations of CBD, or are made from hemp (cannabis grown for industrial use) – more on that here.

Cannabis medicines are highly personal and the effects can differ depending on the reason for taking them and the patient’s medical needs. This makes choosing the right product with the right ratio very important. It is not an exact science so we cannot give specific instructions. Having medical oversight in determining the right ratio and correct dosage is an important benefit of accessing cannabis medicines legally, via prescription.

At Logist, we provide education and support for prescribers. We offer group training sessions as well as individual communication with your doctor, in order to help them make the best decision for their patients’ treatment. Doctors can get in touch using the contact information below or request our educational materials via the “Request Info” button on our homepage.

Media attention so far has focussed very much on examples of extreme costs to patients and their parents, arguing to move these products onto the NHS. At Logist we are supportive of calls for NHS access and development of the evidence base required by NICE. However, these reports have inadvertently created an expectation with potential patients that cannabis medicines through private practice will be very expensive. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case. By choosing the right product and a competitive clinic cost will come down significantly.

For all enquiries, information and support, whether a patient, a carer or a physician, please get in touch with us via the details below.

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