Canadians who were prescribed medicinal cannabis may one day claim amounts to their insurance, experts have predicted, in the light of new Health Canada regulations allow the sale of cannabis products.
The federal department has adopted new rules on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes earlier this month, after the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled that patients were allowed to eat in several forms, such as in oils or edible products.
Khurram Malik, an analyst at investment firm of Jacob Securities, believes that, gradually, insurance will locate in the area. According to him, if oils are permitted, pharmaceutical capsules can manufacture similar to those of the cod liver oil, for example.
Experts believe that the changes made by the Ministry will influence the perception of the legitimacy of the product by physicians and insurers.
One positive in connection with the possible sale of capsules, says Malik, is that it will allow better dosage of the substance. When people smoke cannabis, it is impossible to know the dosage that is actually inhaled by the patient, which worries doctors, he notes.
For the CEO of Tweed Marijuana, a cannabis producer from Smiths Falls, Ontario, Bruce Linton, if a product does not look different from other drugs, it becomes much easier for people “to understand and accept that it is possible treatment option for patients. ”
But cannabis growers will have a big obstacle in front of them: the product does not have drug identification number – commonly called DIN.
“If Health Canada delivered a DIN, it is likely that insurance would cover it,” said Wendy Hope, a spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Health Insurance.
According to Malik, the absence of the DIN can be explained by a lack of rigorous clinical research on its effectiveness. “The evidence is very circumstantial. These are not typical studies over ten years, double-blind, doctors and pharmaceutical companies want to see, “he said.
However, he believes it will have to change. “We will see more and more Canadian companies enter into partnerships with universities abroad that are a little more progressive here (…) to advance research,” he said.
Currently, most insurance companies do not reimburse the amounts related to medical cannabis. But some of them, including Manulife, say they would consider some exceptions if the employer makes a specific request for one of its employees.
Earlier this year, Sun Life has finally agreed to pay the salaries of a student from the University of Waterloo in the insurance plan for students after his student association had pleaded his case. Zaid Jonathan, aged 22, uses cannabis to alleviate the effects of a syndrome called “newly persistent headache everyday.”
Other likely insurance cover the cost of some patients by dipping into an expense allowance for health care, but it does not happen often, says Hope.