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Australian cannabis producer is driving down costs for patients



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Australia’s first independent medical cannabis farm is now in full production and is set to drive down costs for patients in the country.

The company behind a multimillion dollar cannabis production facility in New South Wales are hoping to reduce costs for medical cannabis patients in Australia.

Until now a large proportion of cannabis-based medicines in Australia have been imported from overseas from countries such as Canada, with patients paying on average $400 a month for their prescriptions.

Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) is the first cannabis producer in the state and the only company in the country to hold both a GMP and GACP certification.

Registered in 2015 ANTG has spent the last five years obtaining licences and permits and building the facility – which is said to house more than 12,000 plants – and is now in full production to supply the local and export market.

Medical cannabis was legalised in Australia in 2016, but many patients are still forced to access it illicitly due to high costs and prescriptions not being subsidised by the Government.

However, a FreshLeaf Analytics report earlier this year found that patients buying legal cannabis products are now spending roughly the same as those accessing it on the black market, as increase in competition drives down prices.

CEO of ANTG Matt Cantelo told Cannabis Health that the company is committed to further reducing costs for patients to encourage them to use legal routes to access their medication.

“At the moment medical cannabis is fairly cost prohibitive, with the average patient spending around $400 a month, and more for conditions such as epilepsy where the dosage has to be significantly increased,” he said.

“On the black market you don’t know what you’re getting, it’s not tested and for around the same price you could have a very clean and highly regulated product.

Matt continued: “Prices are decreasing slowly but surely.

“Being a local producer, we don’t have the shipping and freight costs that the Canadian imports have, but we are looking at more efficient ways to cultivate and manufacture cannabis to reduce our costs and pass those cost reductions onto the patients.”

Australia is now thought to have 30,000 legal medical cannabis patients and the Therapeutic Goods Administration is approving increasing numbers of prescriptions – with more than 6,000 processed in September 2020 alone.

“We’re starting to see a bit of a snowball effect, with the numbers increasing exponentially over the months,” Matt continued.

“We’re seeing a shift in patients who have been accessing cannabis on the black market moving to legal products as doctors become more confident prescribing.”

He added: “With further acceptance from doctors and prices decreasing, we are going to see significant increases in the coming year.

“Hopefully it will start to become accepted as a mainstream medicine, especially when the clinical data and research catches up.”