Medicinal cannabis funding for individuals

Sometimes a prescriber thinks a patient will benefit from a treatment that isn’t funded

PHARMAC uses its Named Patient Pharmaceutical Assessment (NPPA) process to consider whether to fund a treatment for an individual patient.

NPPA is part of PHARMAC’s Exceptional Circumstances funding framework.

Any application must meet NPPA principles

For PHARMAC to consider a NPPA application, applications must must meet the principles of the policy:

  1. Has the person tried all currently funded alternative treatments?
  2. Does the person have exceptional clinical circumstances?
  3. Has PHARMAC already considered the treatment for funding?

Previous NPPA applications for medicinal cannabis

PHARMAC has received over 50 NPPA applications for medicinal cannabis products. Overwhelmingly, the applications did not meet the principles of NPPA and were not approved.

PHARMAC has declined NPPA applications to fund medicinal cannabis products to treat people with:

  • mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • pain, including neuropathic pain, chronic pain, severe acute pain, post-operative pain, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • seizure disorders, including medically refractory epilepsy, Aicardi syndrome, Lennox-Gastuat syndrome and Dravet’s syndrome
  • muscular/spasticity disorders, including motor neurone disease, severe dystonia and multiple sclerosis
  • other neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and dementia
  • insomnia and nausea (to treat the symptoms).

As at 1 July 2020, we have approved three NPPA applications to fund medicinal cannabis products. These approvals were for individual patients whose clinical circumstances were life-threatening and/or extremely severe. In all three cases, all other treatment options had been exhausted.

Find out more about the NPPA process

Who to contact

If you want to ask about whether NPPA is right for your patient, email nppa@pharmac.govt.nz