Chemist Warehouse backs medicinal cannabis venture

Australia’s biggest pharmacy chain has joined a medicinal cannabis joint venture that plans to deliver its first products across its network in the coming months.

Wellnex Life announced on Tuesday that Chemist Warehouse will take a 10 per cent interest in the venture, which already includes OneLife Botanicals.

The joint venture plans to launch the first of five medicinal cannabis products by the end of the financial year on June 30, under a jointly-owned brand with Chemist Warehouse.

“We are excited to be entering a rapidly transforming industry which is seeing surging consumer demand with growing recognition of the legitimacy of cannabis-based medicine by patients and prescribers,” Wellnex Life CEO George Karafotias said.

The joint venture has reached an agreement with OnTracka to develop a telehealth application for connecting patients with authorised prescribers and relevant cannabis products.

Australian regulators in 2016 created several pathways under which medical cannabis can be legally prescribed to patients.

Last year, 970,041 Australian patients, including 307,026 new ones, were prescribed medical cannabis by “authorised prescribers” – doctors specifically authorised to dispense cannabis.

Another 117,000 prescriptions for medical cannabis were dispensed last year by GPs under the Special Access Scheme Category B, meaning a doctor does not have a special dispensation to prescribe cannabis but asks for approval on a case-by-case basis.

Medicinal cannabis has been prescribed to treat chronic pain or anxiety, sleep disorders, cancer pain, insomnia, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, arthritis and migraines.


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