The Australian provinces of Victoria and New South Wales have extended emergency measures that allow pharmacies to prescribe drugs available through the Pharmacy Benefits Program (PBS) without a prescription, including medical cannabis.

The measures began in January in response to the spectacular fires that ravaged the country and were extended in response to the coronavirus pandemic until the end of September.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Australian Federation of pharmacists, welcomed the decision and called on other states to follow suit.

Australians are having a very difficult time at the moment, so making emergency supply measures permanent and nationally consistent would make life much easier,” said National President George Tambassis.

It would mean that our patients would not have unnecessary extra costs or have to wait to act every time a crisis occurs.

This only applies to patients who have had a prescription for medical cannabis in the past but who will now be able to avoid a refill. For those who have been waiting to receive it, the Australian government approves some 4,000 cases per month.

Australia legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and has been slowly rolling out its national therapeutic cannabis program since then. The country initially faced many shortages in the supply of cannabis, with imports offsetting the shortages. In 2019, the process of obtaining licenses for production or processing was facilitated.

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