Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Czechs can buy medical hemp from Canada as of Christmas

6 December 2017

Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - Medical hemp from the Tilray Canadian firm will be available in the Czech Republic by the end of the year, Sean Carney, representing the firm in Europe, has told CTK.

One gramme of this medical hemp is to cost between 165 crowns, a price estimated by the Institute for Drug Control (SUKL), and 300 crowns paid for Dutch hemp now.

The Elkoplast firm should deliver Czech hemp to pharmacies in the first half of next year.

The last laboratory tests are supposed to end next week and then medical hemp will be for sale, Carney said in an interview with CTK.

The firm has imported some 1.4 kilos of medical hemp to the Czech Republic, both whole dried flowers with balanced content of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) and ground flowers with a high THC content.

The Czech Republic is the fourth country where Tilray exports hemp, after Croatia, Cyprus and Germany. It mostly supplies it in the form of extract in drops and capsules.

It is hard to estimate the cannabinoid content in dried hemp (cannabis), and this is why doctors are reluctant to prescribe it, Carney said.

However, the Czech law does not permit any other form but dried hemp for medical purposes.

A change to a directive would suffice to change this, Carney added.

The expenditures in health care have been dropping in all countries where hemp-based medicines are permitted, he pointed out.

As of next year, the Canadian firm will be cultivating hemp in Europe as well, which might lower its price.

National anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril estimates that some 800,000 people annually use hemp-based products for medical purposes in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million.

Prescribing such medicines has been legal in the Czech Republic since 2013.

About 4,600 grammes of medical hemp were released in pharmacies based on prescriptions from 2015 to August. A part of it was delivered by Elkoplast, but since February, its has not supplied a sufficient amount. This is why hemp from the Netherlands started being imported in May.

Hemp is available on e-prescription only, with some restrictions, in the Czech Republic. The law allows this treatment for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, dementia, cancer and AIDS. They must fully cover the costs and are allowed to buy up to 180 grammes monthly.

However, some of them complain that such doses do not suffice to attenuate pain.

Some 20 physicians, including oncologists, palliative medicine experts, neurologists and psychiatrists, are authorised to prescribe medical hemp and about the same number of pharmacies can dispense it in the country.

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