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Australia's Next Medicinal Cannabis Product Will Cost You $800

A new pharmaceutical cannabidiol product hopes to help tens of thousands of Australians. But it comes at a cost.

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A new Big Pharma cannabis product is set to be sold in Australia in 2018 — but it will cost you $800 a bottle.

MGC Pharmaceuticals recently announced it was pairing with pharmaceutical wholesaler HL Pharma to bring adult epilepsy product CannEpil to Australia in early 2018.

CannEpil is a Cannabidiol-based product used for drug-resistant (otherwise known as refractory) epilepsy, which almost 70,000 Australians suffer from.

In early November CEO at MGC Pharmaceuticals Roby Zomer wrote a blog post where he described CannEpil as a "big moment" for the company.

"For a long time, it has been MGC Pharma’s vision to provide breakthrough solutions for prevalent global health issues to improve the quality of patients’ lives ... The release of CannEpil is our first step toward achieving this vision," he wrote.

MGC claims its $800 asking price is well below the average asking price in Australia, but it has drawn criticism from the medicinal cannabis community.

In May, Tasmania's medicinal cannabis scheme was deemed too expensive by patients. South Australia's similar scheme has also been criticised for its price. Fees upwards of $120 a day have been quoted to BuzzFeed News in previous reporting.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, MGC Pharmaceuticals CEO Zomer said CannEpil is "significantly cheaper than other equivalent products on the market," but added that the company would be willing to reduce the price further as the rollout continues.

"MGC is also open to a discussion with the Australian government around subsidisation of this product as it becomes more widely used," he said.

"Such a move would bring it in line with countries like Germany who have already begun to subside similar products for the benefit of patients."


Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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