The German federal government has instructed the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA) to amend the drug directive regarding the approval requirement for medical cannabis. The aim is to define specific specialist groups and necessary qualifications, eliminating the approval requirement for certain medical professionals. In response, associations specialising in medical cannabis use have submitted statements to the G-BA.
The approval requirement challenge
Currently, the costs of medical cannabis for those covered by statutory health insurance are only reimbursed if prior approval is granted by the health insurance company (approval requirement). The established procedure for this is particularly discouraging, lengthy, and bureaucratic for both doctors and patients.
Additionally, 30-40% of physicians’ applications for cost coverage are rejected by statutory health insurance companies. As a result, despite the proven benefits, medical cannabis is still not widely available, forcing patients into illegality to access treatment.
For these reasons, the associations expressly support any measures that facilitate cost coverage by statutory health insurance companies. The associated reduction in bureaucracy not only results in cost savings for the insurers but also improves the treatment of patients.
What is crucial in this case according to the professionals? Firstly it is expansion of the proposed specialist circle. They propose to include fields where medical cannabis has already proven effective. More and more doctors are open for medical cannabis prescriptions and understand patients’ needs.
Moreover, they mentioned special consideration for general practitioners in case of lifting the approval requirement. All because it is the second-largest group of prescribers in Germany according to companion surveys. They play a significant role in the current patient care with cannabis medications, especially in rural areas and in light of the growing shortage of specialist doctors.
Additionally, an optimal healthcare situation for patients can be available only by completely abolishing the approval requirement. This allows patients access to their necessary therapy regardless of their financial means. Prescriber physicians must not fall into legal action at the same time. Therefore, the signing associations urge lawmakers to make the necessary adjustments within the upcoming regulations, the Medical Cannabis Act (MedCanG), or as part of bureaucracy reduction in the healthcare system.
In conclusion, there is a call for easier access, medical autonomy for doctors, and bureaucracy reduction. It represents a pivotal step toward addressing the challenges faced by patients and medical professionals in Germany. By advocating for these changes, the cannabis associations aim to create a more efficient and patient-friendly system that ensures the widespread availability of medicinal cannabis, benefiting those in need across the country.