New Zealand eases prescription requirement for cannabis-based medicine Sativex

Doctors in New Zealand no longer require Ministry of Health approval to prescribe Sativex, according to a new notice published in the country’s official Gazette – a move that could facilitate access to the pharmaceutical-grade, cannabis-based product.

Any move to reduce bureaucratic-level processing of cannabinoid prescriptions is seen as a boon for patient access as well as producers’ bottom lines.

“From 1 April 2020, registered medical practitioners no longer need ministerial approval to prescribe Sativex for patients under their care, where this is within their scope of practice,” the Medicinal Cannabis Agency wrote in an email to stakeholders

“When a prescription has been issued, Sativex can be dispensed to the patient by a registered pharmacist, or by a registered medical practitioner if the patient is in their care.”

Sativex is still classified as a controlled drug.

Case-by-case approval from the minister of health was required before the change went into effect April 1.

Medical practitioners registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand are able to prescribe Sativex for a patient under their care, according to the notice in the Gazette.

The following might supply Sativex:

  • A pharmacist registered with the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand.
  • A medical practitioner registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

Sativex, produced by United Kingdom-based GW Pharmaceuticals, is distributed by Emerge Health in Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, another cannabinoid medication produced by GW Pharmaceuticals is seeing favorable treatment by regulators.

Australian health regulators quietly gave Epidiolex orphan designation and priority review status in late 2019, according to an exclusive Marijuana Business Daily report.

The designation allows the Therapeutic Goods Administration to waive application and evaluation fees and expedite its assessment of the application to list Epidiolex in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at