German parliament adopts amendment of law regarding hemp medicine

On 19 January, the German parliament unanimously decided that cannabis patients will be reimbursed by health insurance starting from March.

In 2015 it was talked about, in 2016 it should have to come, now it has been adopted: the new law on cannabis as medicine, which in the future can be prescribed by a physician. The law was passed by the German Bundestag, with no dissenting votes and abstentions, and stipulates that in the future no exemption from the National Opium agency is needed to get cannabis medicine. This means that patients are no longer exposed to the long-winded and stony bureaucratic path which the approximately 1.000 official German cannabis patients had to endure until they got their pharmacy grass. In the near future, it suffices to convince your doctor that cannabis is a useful and help drug and that he prescribes it as a narcotic prescription. Then off to the pharmacy you go, grab your weed, and health insurance pays for it. However, probably a few hurdles are to be taken, it is not quite as simple as that.
The first hurdle is posed by the medical service of the health insurance (MDK). Patients who are to receive a narcotic prescription for cannabis medicine for the first time have to undergo an examination. And the task of the MDK is to save health insurance as many expenses as possible. Unfortunately, it is not about the patients, but primarily about proving that they do not need this expensive medicine. It is because „grievously ill“ patients will gain access to the paid medication. But who is a grievously ill“ patient was not defined by the law. Patients who already have an exception permit are likely to have fewer problems. So, some patients will probably receive their first earpiece here.

If the expert opinion of the MDK is positive, then there is still hurdle two, the family physician who issues the prescription. It is important to note that physician have only a limited budget for drug prescriptions. If the amount X is exceeded, the physicians have to pay the balance from their own pockets. Which many will avoid – well understandable, which is why even today the physician might put you off for the next quarter once the budget approaches exhaustion. Sure, you still get heart medication or the like. Bu physiotherapy and everything not really necessary will be gladly shelved. And because cannabis medicine is quite expensive, we can assume that many a doctor will be obstructive, if a patient sits in front of him and wants cannabis flowers costing more than 1.000 euros from the pharmacist. Still, it is not certain how practice will actually look be, whether patients will be left standing.

Markus Berger
(abbreviated and translated by mushroom)

Ärztezeitung Website

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