NSW Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service

This Service has been established to provide clinical support to medical practitioners considering the therapeutic use of a cannabis medicine; and is staffed by a specialist physician (with expertise in general medicine and clinical pharmacology) and clinical pharmacists.

Information about efficacy and safety is not readily available, including appropriate formulations and dosing, possible adverse effects and potential drug-drug interactions.

This new service recognises it can be challenging for practitioners to review the primary literature, assess information on unapproved products, balance uncertainties in the use of unapproved medicines and keep pace with developments in the literature.

Medical practitioners and other health care professionals can access the NSW Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service by calling the CMAS Hotline on (02) 4923 6200 or email HNELHD-CMAS@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au. The Service is available 9 am- 5 pm Monday-Friday.

Access to medicinal cannabis products and guidance documents

The Commonwealth Department of Health, in conjunction with state and territory governments, has helped coordinate the development new clinical guidance documents for prescribers of medicinal cannabis products for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic non-cancer pain and palliative care, as well as an overview document.

Their recommendations for use in palliative care are:

Given the low number and generally poor quality of studies available to guide clinicians, it is recommended that patients be encouraged where possible to enrol in clinical trials of medicinal cannabis in palliative care. This document acknowledges that there will be times where trials of medicinal cannabis are not available but individual patients wish to be treated with these products. Under these circumstances it is strongly recommended that doctors emphasise the limited evidence for medicinal cannabis and the possibility of adverse events to the patient and their carers.

In the absence of evidence for first-line or sole use of cannabinoid products in palliative care, it is recommended that, should the treating physician elect to initiate medicinal cannabis therapy in palliative care patients, it be used after standard palliative treatments have been considered and used.

Click here to go to their website.

Click here for their information specific to palliative care.

Download their ‘Guidelines for the use of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of palliative care patients in Australia.’