Althea Group Holdings (ASX:AGH) Founder & Chief Executive Officer Joshua Fegan tells The Capital Network’s Executive Director Lelde Smits why it remains hard for patients to access medicinal cannabis, what companies are doing to make access easier and what his outlook is for regulatory change in Australia.
Lelde Smits: Hello, I'm Lelde Smits for The Capital Network, and joining me at Althea Group Holdings headquarters in Melbourne is its CEO and Founder Joshua Fegan. Josh, welcome.
Joshua Fegan: Good morning, Lelde.
Lelde Smits: Now, Josh, why is it so hard for Australians to access medicinal cannabis when it's been legal to access it in Australia for now almost three years?
Joshua Fegan: Yes, good question. The patient access pathways for medicinal cannabis in Australia are complex. The medicine itself is an unregistered medicine meaning that doctors have to make an application on behalf of patients if they would like to use it as a treatment option, and the available pathway is something called the special access scheme. That tends to put doctors off because they're used to writing prescriptions for approved medicines. It's not to say that medicinal cannabis isn't effective for patients, it's just an alternative pathway that there is a level of greater understanding required of physicians that Althea is embarking on making that more accepted.
Lelde Smits: So, if you're a person or a patient that is wanting medicinal cannabis what do you recommend they do to gain more information, education and that potential access to a doctor that's going to prescribe it to them in Australia?
Joshua Fegan: Yeah, absolutely. The starting point to any journey for medicinal cannabis is talking to your doctor to find out if it is suitable. We have a special platform--technology platform--called Althea concierge that patients can go to its website and sign up to for free. Within that platform is the doctor directory where patients can find a prescriber that has actual prescription history with Althea medicinal cannabis, and that's always a good starting point for a journey for a patient.
Lelde Smits: So, finally Josh, do you think it's going to now get easier for patients to access medicinal cannabis in Australia?
Joshua Fegan: Yes, we definitely think the outlook is good we're seeing that states are easing requirements for doctors through the medicinal cannabis application process. Some states have actually removed themselves completely. The Commonwealth government's TGA application remains in place but we also think that's a good thing because it provides good support for doctors, and it also makes sure that medicinal cannabis is getting into to the right patient’s hands.
Lelde Smits: Excellent. We’ll certainly be watching to see what happens next. Thank you for your insights today.
Joshua Fegan: Thank you, Lelde.