“A source in one medicinal cannabis company told Stuff they would typically add 50 per cent to the price they purchased it for overseas, the pharmacy wholesaler would add around 3-6 per cent and some pharmacies were adding anywhere between 50 and 100 per cent.”
This is why
A) NZ medical cannabis companies so vociferously supported the no vote.
B) Why the country will regret the no vote succeeding and not having a base point of standard regulation across the board for adult use and medical to start from.
It’s worth noting that this is exactly the state of affairs medical cannabis companies in Australia want and if they deny it I’m sorry but we simply don’t believe you.
The only thing that would persuade us medical cannabis companies in Australia want a fair and equitable market is if they publicly started campaigning for Federal adult use regulation. But we are as likely to see that as we are the current government declaring they want a carbon neutral economy.
Because the products are unapproved medicines, they cannot by law be advertised so there is no transparency around pricing.
And because the products are not Government funded, pharmacists can charge what they like.
Some pharmacists are using their standard computer software to generate a retail price; others are charging a flat fee which is $10 to $20 above the wholesale price, on “compassionate” grounds.
Wholesale prices obtained from a variety of sources by Stuff varied widely for similar products.
Prices may vary depending on the supplier, but generally the wholesale price of a 40ml bottle of Tilray, containing 100mg of CBD per millilitre, is about $433, including GST.
A 40ml bottle of Endoca (150mg) is about $396, a 30ml bottle of Theraleaf (100mg) is about $229, a 25ml bottle of Medleaf (100mg) about $200 and a 30ml bottle of Eqalis (120mg) about $178.
Depending on the prescribed dosage, a bottle can last for a month or two.
To save money, many patients have illegally imported products themselves via the internet – a bottle of CBD oil can be bought for about $100 – or turned to the illicit local market.
Edward, owner of Pharmacy 44, says it’s been difficult to work out a fair price.
“It was a rare product for us to access in the first place, we were absolutely flying blind.
“You’ve got variable products coming on to the market, at variable prices for variable quantities, none of which have existed probably two years ago – everything’s changing. It creates confusion for everybody.
“The question from our industry’s point of view is, what is a reasonable price to put on to it – and there is no answer to that.”
Pharmacy 44 was given a frowny face emoji on a new pharmacy pricing map on the Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ (MCANZ) website. But after Stuff’s inquiries, Edward promised to beat the price the Jeffries family was paying for Medleaf elsewhere.
“I’ve been in this game for 50 years – my motive is about caring for people who are less fortunate than myself,” he says.
Karen Jeffries says she’s happy with the way things have turned out, but hopes medical cannabis prices will continue to drop. The family estimates they’ve spent $36,000 on cannabis products – most of it covered by donations and fundraising.
In Auckland, Dr Mark Hotu, of Green Doctors in Ponsonby, says some of the prices he’s seen for medicinal cannabis products in pharmacies have been “shocking”.