“Patient enquiries are growing, with the local industry gearing up to deliver products. However, we remain worried many doctors say they’re still not informed enough to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Simply put, the best opportunity for them to get ahead of all this is MedCan,” says Paul Manning, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

While tickets are limited, registrations remain open for MedCan Summit 2020 on 18 – 19 March at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre, with organisers equally keen to see a strong attendance by healthcare professionals.

“Given GPs will be the gatekeepers of medicinal cannabis from 1 April, doctor education is absolutely critical to patient access. Let’s not forget that thousands of Kiwi patients have waited a long time for this day to arriveAnticipation is building, with many doctors now needing to upskill,” says Mr Manning.

He says Helius’ own demand modelling suggests the New Zealand market will reach around 60,000 patients at maturity, which will only increase further as clinically-proven products start coming on the market.

“Surveys tell us that most doctors are already getting patient enquiries and would prescribe medicinal cannabis but only with sufficient information and evidence. And that’s the key: Doctors want and need to know more,” he says.

New Zealand Medical Journal study of GPs, released last month, showed over half had received enquiries about medicinal cannabis, with 84% saying they would be “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to prescribe a Pharmac-approved, funded cannabis product if it was backed by good evidence.

This follows a Helius-commissioned independent survey of over 700 healthcare professionals last year, where 89% of those qualified to prescribe said they would prescribe medicinal cannabis products for one or more of 20 medical conditions, but only if they had enough information.

Mr Manning says peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that cannabis may be therapeutic for more than 50 serious health conditions, from chronic pain to anxiety, epilepsy to depression, cancer to insomnia. Cannabis-based medicines have the potential to improve health on an unprecedented scale – and in a way that’s life-changing for many patients and much safer than many pharmaceutical alternatives.

“Doctors can see from MedCan’s detailed programme that the two-day medicine stream is particularly strong, with several world-renowned medical experts presenting across a range of areas. Without doubt, this summit will prove to be a very good use of their time,” he says. 

Notably, the educational component of MedCan Summit 2020 has been given approval for CME endorsement by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) as well as the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) Enhance Professional Development.

As New Zealand’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis biotechnology company, focused on research and development, Helius Therapeutics is foundation sponsor of MedCan Summit 2020.

“We’re significantly investing in MedCan as it’s a timely, exciting, and educational international event for all stakeholders. Such an opportunity has never been presented at this scale in New Zealand, so on behalf of their patients, we’re now calling on doctors to join us,” says Paul Manning.

Call for doctors to attend medicinal cannabis summit

“New Zealand healthcare professionals who say they don’t know enough about medicinal cannabis now have the best opportunity to change that,” says Dr Zahra Champion, Executive Director of BioTechNZ and MedCan Summit 2020 organiser.

With tickets limited, organisers of New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis summit, MedCan 2020, are keen for more doctors and pharmacists to register for the 18 – 19 March Auckland event.  

“We’ve got an amazing suite of international and Kiwi medical professionals presenting, and we’d love to see a good number of doctors attending the summit to make the most of this unique opportunity,” says Dr Champion. 

With New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme taking effect from 1 April, MedCan Summit 2020 aims to educate and enable the New Zealand medicinal cannabis sector, connecting medicine, science, industry and technology over two days of information and collaboration.

“There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding prescribing medicinal cannabis. With consumer awareness growing, it is more important than ever that medical professionals feel properly equipped to deal with increased requests from patients for cannabis-based medicine. However, if doctors are not fully informed, they simply won’t prescribe it, meaning improved patient access won’t be achieved despite Parliament and the public’s wish,” she says.

Notably, the educational component of MedCan Summit 2020 has been given approval for CME endorsement by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) as well as the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) Enhance Professional Development.

Areas covered in the summit’s medicine stream include: medicinal cannabis research and evidence, where it should be considered and its application; case studies; the endocannabinoid system and therapeutic indications for CBD and THC; cannabinoid-based medicines in chronic pain and palliative care management; dispelling the myths of THC; and the new regulatory environment.

“The New Zealand public has taken considerable interest in medicinal cannabis. We now want our healthcare professionals to grab this unique opportunity to feel fully equipped for this new frontier of care,” says Dr Zahra Champion.

About MedCan Summit 2020

MedCan Summit 2020 is New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis summit. The summit will educate and enable the New Zealand medicinal cannabis sector, ensuring that New Zealanders are equipped to maximise the opportunities that medicinal cannabis brings, both improving the quality of life and fuelling economic growth.

The 18-19 March summit at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre has been scheduled to take place before New Zealand’s new medicinal cannabis regulations come into effect on 1 April 2020.

Thirty international and New Zealand subject experts (scientists, medical experts, clinicians, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers) will share up to date information, learnings and first-hand insights on this new frontier of care, covering the medicine, science and industry aspects of medicinal cannabis.

The educational sessions at MedCan Summit 2020 have been approved for CME endorsement by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) as well as the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) Enhance Professional Development.

MedCan Summit 2020 has been made possible thanks to foundation sponsor Helius Therapeutics; gold sponsor, SETEK Therapeutics; silver sponsors, AJ Park, Shimadzu and Spectrum Therapeutics; and networking sponsor, Cannasouth.

MedCan Summit 2020 is organised by BioTech New Zealand (BioTechNZ), a membership-funded organisation with the goal of maximising New Zealand’s bioscience and technology capability to create a strong New Zealand bioeconomy.

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