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By Giovanna Verginelli Mezher

Increase in Patients Using Medicinal Cannabis and Its Consequences

The number of Brazilians using medicinal cannabis-based medications increased by approximately 165% in one year, representing a jump from 188,000 to 430,000 patients who used medicinal cannabis this year. As a result, companies assisting in the importation of these medications to Brazil reported a 1,241% increase in their requests to the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) during this period.

In this sense, it can be said that there is a growing demand for these medications and, consequently, an increase in the expenses of the Ministry of Health in the delivery of cannabis-based medications, which are provided based on a judicial order or under the justification of guaranteeing access to treatment and maintenance of health. It is important to clarify that, due to the increase in requests for medications with CBD (cannabidiol), in 2021, the Ministry of Health spent around R$ 160,690.00 with the provision of these medicines, while the following year, the expenditure was R$ 1,671,701.00 and, only in the first quarter of 2023, the Ministry of Health spent around R$ 767,906.00 with the provision of the medications.

The filing of lawsuits seeking the provision of these medications is becoming increasingly common, given that the process to acquire cannabis-based medications is time-consuming and often costly for the patient. Currently, these medications can be obtained in three ways:

(i) through importation, with a medical prescription and authorization from Anvisa.

(ii) purchase at pharmacies – with 34 authorized products – upon presentation of a medical prescription.

(iii) through a safe-conduct for domestic cannabis cultivation granted by the judiciary.

The growth in patients using medicinal cannabis can be explained by advances in research and an increase in indications for the use of these medications. Currently, approximately 12,000 doctors have prescribed cannabis-based products at least once, according to the consultancy Kaya Mind.

Therefore, given the exponential growth in patients using cannabis-based medications, it is important to have public policies for the provision of these medications. These policies should ensure greater state control over the purchase, inventory, supply, and monitoring of patients.

For more content related to the regulation of medicinal cannabis, do not hesitate to contact us by email: regulatorio@kasznarleonardos.com.

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