In the autumn of 2015, a new rule was passed on cannabis for medical purposes. In addition to the usual discussion of the actual effectiveness of cannabis its own decree was not paid much attention. It has brought several fundamental changes. For example, it increased the maximum dose of cannabis for medical use that a physician can prescribe to a patient for a month from 30 g to 180 g. This six-fold increase is justified by approaching the real needs of patients.
The Major Change for You Now
Another major change is the increase in the number of indications for which cannabis could be prescribed by the field of ophthalmology (specifically the treatment of glaucoma pain) and the treatment of skin and mucosal defects. Cannabis can be used for 5 indications and can be prescribed by 13 medical specialists.
The number of patients varies greatly. This is probably due to the fact that so far no one can count how many patients would be interested in cannabis treatment. The decree itself does not mention the number of patients. KOPAC estimates the number of patients at 26,000, based on the number of patients treated with cannabis in Israel. At the larchmont dispensary you can have the solutions now.
Price of cannabis
Already cannabis patients can be treated, but the number of patients who buy cannabis in a pharmacy is relatively small. This is probably because the patient has to pay for cannabis himself and the cost of cannabis – currently imported from Holland – is not exactly small. The price of cannabis for a patient is 250 – 300 CZK per gram.
The state agency for cannabis for medical purposes informed about the conclusion of a contract with a Czech cannabis producer. According to the published information, the first delivery should be available at the turn of 2015 and 2016, i.e. now.
How Much Cannabis Cost?
Let’s calculate how much the total cost of cannabis could be. Let us count 100 CZK per gram, according to the explanatory memorandum, consider 180 g per month as close to the patient’s needs and multiply by 12 for the annual dose, and take the estimate of 26,000 patients according to KOPAC. The result is astounding: CZK 5,616,000,000, five billion six hundred and sixteen million crowns.
Who will pay for it?
Reimbursement from public health insurance is considered. If, however, cannabis were to be covered by health insurance, each of us, including state insured persons (children, students, seniors, people without work) would newly contribute in solidarity to cannabis treatment of CZK 561.6 per year. Recall that the last increase in payments for state insured people has charged the budget with CZK 4.3 billion. Now, for cannabis alone, a similar increase would have to be made.
If, on the other hand, there was no extraordinary increase in payments, it would be necessary to look for resources in the public health insurance budget. The amount of CZK 5.6 billion is an additive cost; cannabis would be administered to patients in addition to their current treatment, and therefore the cost of the therapy used so far will not be saved. The savings would have to come from another segment. However, this is an amount higher than all health insurance companies will pay for the care of GPs or twice the amount that all health insurance companies spend on emergency medical services.
So it is high time to return the debate and decision on the payment of cannabis for medical purposes to the real economy. There is no and will not be money for the benevolent and widely indicated payment of cannabis from public health insurance. Moreover, it is highly questionable whether this expansion is the most important for the solidarity system of public health insurance in the Czech Republic.