Department of Health provides new commercial insights to Senate Inquiry
Department of Health

Department of Health provides new commercial insights to Senate Inquiry

Department of Health provides new commercial insights to Senate Inquiry

The Senate Inquiry into the current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia has already revealed some fascinating new pieces of information on the performance of our medical cannabis framework. Public submissions to the Inquiry are available on the APH website and they are all worth a read. But we want to draw your attention to the submission from the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) in particular.

The DoH is usually quite tight-lipped with medical cannabis information. Within the DoH, The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) publishes SAS-B approval figures every month but anything more detailed generally requires a formal Freedom of Information request. This is one of the places where we’ve been getting data on condition approvals, State/Territory breakdowns etc. And the Office of Drug Control (ODC) keeps an up-to-date list of companies that have agreed to have their commercial licensing status made public. But they haven’t published information on, for example, how much cultivation activity is currently permitted across license holders. Until now.

Here’s what the DoH had to say about the commercial production situation. As of 31 December 2019, the following licenses had been issued:

Total licenses since 2016 100
Current total licenses 92
Current commercial cultivation licenses 31
Current research cultivation licenses 20
Current manufacture licenses 41


That’s an interesting snapshot of the license type breakdown. But here’s something the ODC hasn’t (to our knowledge) reported on before: the total permitted cultivation volumes across all license holders. Licenses are necessary but not sufficient for a company to start cultivating. Once a company gets their cultivation license, they must then apply for permits which specify and authorise cultivation quantities. The DoH reports that across commercial and research cultivation license holders, a total cultivation volume of more than 35,000 kg of dry flower is currently authorised.

A bunch of that dry flower will be for down-stream processing and finished dose form manufacture. But to give that figure some context, from June to September 2019, Canadians bought 37,558kg of dried flower. That includes medical and adult use but excludes oil and other finished dose forms. So, the 35,000kg figure is quite a lot, considering how limited our local legal demand is. It’s reasonable to assume that most of this cultivation activity will end up in export markets.

There is also some new patient access data from the TGA that is worth unpacking. But relevant to local cultivation, the DoH has estimated that in calendar year 2019, about 10% of all SAS-B prescriptions were for locally cultivated and manufactured products. Little Green Pharma is currently the leading local producer in Australia, but we are fairly sure the DoH is including locally manufactured products from imported ingredients in this figure as well.

FreshLeaf Analytics, a division of Southern Cannabis Holdings, is the leading supplier of data about the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia. We have access to medicinal cannabis product, pricing and clinical data sets from some of Australia’s leading healthcare companies and organizations including healthcare clinics, pharmacies, product suppliers and the TGA. The FreshLeaf Analytics team provides custom research, analysis and consulting services in the Medicinal Cannabis market in Australia. The FreshLeaf Analytics team can be contacted on +61 2 8203 8741 or [email protected]

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