Monday 3 April 2017

Licensed Producers In the Best Position to Push For Insurance Coverage

Millions of Canadians are prescribed medications that are paid for by insurance coverage.  For many of them, this coverage is what allows them to take the prescriptions their doctors prescribe, as they simply couldn’t afford them otherwise.  Coverage encourages prescription compliance, and the studies are there to prove it.

In 2012, CMAJ published an article that researched the effect of cost on adherence to prescription medications in Canada.  They found that approximately 1 in 10 Canadians report cost as being a reason they don’t fill their prescriptions.  When they considered respondents with insurance coverage, their findings were clear, “After multivariate adjustment, we found that lacking insurance for prescription drugs was associated with a more than fourfold increase in the odds of cost-related nonadherence.”  There are even statistics that show a direct correlation between co-pay fees and adherence.  The lower the co-pay, the more likely that prescription will get filled.

As more and more retirees show interest in cannabinoid therapy, they’re faced with the shocking truth that switching from pharmaceuticals to Cannabis means a few hundred dollars out-of-pocket a month. That's a hard pill to swallow when you've had almost everything covered for years.  Cost is a definite roadblock for many who want to try Cannabinoid therapy.  Not so single-payer after all eh?

Statistics from 2012 state that 2.3 million working-age Canadians were on disability, a quarter of which were considered severe.  Cannabinoid therapy works very well for many severe disabilities like chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, MS, some cancers even.  So as it stands today, if any of these income-limited citizens wants to try cannabinoid therapy they have to pay for it out of their disability payments.  Many juggle food and medicine each month, rationing everything at all times.  This undoubtedly affects country-wide healthcare costs.  As long as Health Canada refuses to consider medical cannabis a medicine, both patients on disability and patients with insurance coverage will have to pay out of pocket for their cannabis.

Insurers say they cannot cover our medical marijuana prescriptions because Cannabis has no drug identification number (DIN).  And, at least by the standards Western medicine has set thus far, they’re right.  Is this one little acronym going to keep safer medicine out of the hands of Canadians?

Upon further inspection I learn that the DIN has much less to do with how the drug affects you, and much more to do with tracking, categorizing, and marketing.  The number itself is computer generated and upon search, will tell you everything from the manufacturer to the mode of administration.  But since a DIN is granted only after testing is done, the DIN in effect, ensures that the product has undergone sufficient testing. You see the problem.  No one wants to pay for studies on something that they’re not going to reverse engineer.  And as far as the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled, we have the right to use this plant however we see fit (aside from using organic solvents).

Pharmaceutical companies spend millions proving the safety, efficacy, and detriment of the chemical concoctions they sell.  But with successful medicines, these companies reap the rewards.  If most LP’s deem themselves a part of this industry, shouldn’t we expect the same from them?  It must be choking for some pharmaceutical companies who only sell pills, to see certain LP’s posting profits, hiring celebrities, buying mobile units, and trading on the stock market for selling something that they spent no funds to prove or create.  Who else would we expect should pave the way to not only societal acceptance through studies, but to attain insurance coverage for their patients?

We seem to be at a standstill in Canada where studies are concerned.  So many are done on animals not humans.  So many are done in other countries, where standards differ from our own.  But who better to perform these crucial human studies than the ones who have all the plant product!  They’re literally growing more every day!  And as time flies by, some of these LP’s are even opening storefronts where information and assistance can be attained.  Those outlets would be a great place for data recovery and study product distribution.  Sort of like study headquarters for participants to report to.  All under the strict guidelines that the ACMPR demands of the Licensed Producers.

From a Licensed Producer’s viewpoint, I want you to adhere to your doctor’s authorization, and have a recurring monthly order with me.  But from a patient perspective who sees the prices LP’s charge, I can tell you that isn’t likely to happen every month.  ACMPR patients supplement their medicine by buying elsewhere, meaning the LP’s are missing out on revenue.  Putting in the time, resources, and might that is required to legitimize this medicine to the point of insurance coverage is good for their bottom line.  Insurance coverage encourages compliance, and Cannabis compliance may just have more to do with convenience than with price or quality.

Like Pharmaceutical companies, Licensed Producers just want the bill paid.  If a DIN or the equivalent thereof is required for that to occur, it just seems logical that the Licensed Producers themselves be the ones to foot that bill.  I foresee a CDIN (Cannabinoid Drug Identification Number) perhaps grouped by ailment identifying ranges of cannabinoids and terpenes found therein.  Or one umbrella DIN to cover the whole team.

In the end I believe that this DIN argument is simply a foot-dragging attempt to delay progress.  Someone is profiting, so why change the status quo?  Because the status quo isn’t benefiting the average Canadian.  When we adhere to our prescriptions, the country’s health care costs go down.  We need to demand coverage for all insured and all those on social assistance.  We know what needs to be done.

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