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What Kind Of Cannabis Is Being Dispensed In German Pharmacies?

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According to the latest figures from the statutory health insurers, there are now five different kinds of cannabinoids being dispensed and covered in Germany.

What are the trends, and where is this going in 2020?

Unprocessed Flower Is Still A Big Deal – The dispensation of unprocessed flower has steadily increased at German pharmacies for the last year. Between January and December, insurers increased their payments from €3.7 million euros to €5.5 million euros, an increase of just over 48%. That is good news for the raw flower market.

Cannabinoid Preparations Are Also Increasing – Cannabinoid preparations, which have now been reclassified into three different categories (cannabinoid preparations, flower used in preparations and full-spectrum extracts) have also increased from €2.9 million at the beginning of the year to €5.6 at the end of 2019 (a 93% increase).

Pharmaceutical Cannabinoids Hold Steady – Interestingly, finished pharmaceutical products increased the least in the last year (from €1.4 million at the beginning of January to €1.8 million by December). This is only a 28% increase, suggesting that patients are requesting, and insurers are covering, floss and floss based preparations at the pharmacy.

Trends For 2020

Overall reimbursements for cannabis as medicine are also increasing. In sum €123 million worth of cannabis was reimbursed in 2019, an uptick of 67% over the €74 million worth of cannabinoids that was reimbursed in 2018. 

That said, overall prescriptions did not increase in the same proportion – namely there was a 44% increase in the number of prescriptions processed year over year between 2018 and 2019 (267,348 over 185,370). This appears to indicate that doctors are writing prescriptions for larger quantities of cannabis, not necessarily that there are more patients.

All of this data is also based only on statutory health insurers (public healthcare). Data from private insurers is still not included.

The other issue in the room and in a big way, is that many early adopter patients have given up on legitimate prescriptions due to the hassle, if not fights with their insurers. This population, which is also largely untracked for obvious reasons, is either growing their own again, or obtaining it from the black market. In many parts of Europe, however, due to border closures caused by the Covid-19 epidemic, the difficulty of obtaining the drug in the first place may yet encourage many patients to go back into the legal system again or to look again, for a prescribing doctor.

Be sure to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin this summer to understand the latest trends on the ground in the largest cannabis importing market.