16 March 2022
Following a detailed submission by animal health care service provider eCS Vet (Endocannabinoid System Veterinary Centre) to improve cannabis legislation for the benefit of animal health and welfare, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced in an interim decision they will not amend the existing Poison Standard regulations due to perceived risks and toxicity of cannabinoid substances for animals.
Dr Marta Calvo Blanco DVM, Head of Veterinary Operations at eCS Vet, which works to improve animal welfare by providing education and support for veterinarians on medicinal cannabis, said eCS Vet is determined to clarify and substantiate their application to the TGA by the April 11 deadline.
Emerging research suggests that medical cannabis can help with many pet health conditions, such as anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation and seizures. However, unfortunately Australian animals can’t access all the medicinal cannabis medications currently available to humans, missing out on all the benefits. eCS Vet aims to change this, said Dr Calvo Blanco.
In July 2021, eCS Vet (previously CANNect Vet) applied to the TGA to reword the cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) entries of the Poisons Standard. Currently, these entries only allow for human therapeutic use. eCS Vet requested the rewording to include the therapeutic use of cannabis-based medicines for animals to align access for both veterinary and medical professionals.
“This simple change in the wording that eCS Vet proposed will have a huge effect on the welfare of animals in Australia, and provide appropriate recognition for our world-class veterinary professionals,” said Dr Calvo Blanco.
“It will give the animals the possibility of accessing life-changing medications through the control and support of their vets. This would have a great impact not only in Australia but all around the world, as many countries are in a similar situation and will be watching Australia carefully.”
eCS Vet disagrees with TGA reasoning
In their interim decision, the TGA listed concerns that the risks and toxicity of cannabinoid substances outweigh the potential benefits, alongside a lack of demonstrated therapeutic evidence in animals consistent with the SPF for Schedule 8 (Controlled Drug) substances, and have given weight predominately to the reasons related to the risk to public health and safety.
Dr Calvo Blanco said eCS Vet disagrees with the reasoning of TGA’s decision, saying the TGA is differentiating between doctors and veterinarians, and despite dogs, cats and humans all being different, at the end we are all animals.
“The TGA agrees that the quality control of products containing Schedule 8 substances is well-regulated and has no concerns that this would also not be true for veterinary preparations,” she said.
The TGA rejected eCS Vet’s application despite receiving 35 written submissions in response to the pre-therapeutic meeting public notice. Of these written submissions, 30 submissions were in support of the Application, two were partially supportive and three opposed eCS Vet’s proposal.
Interested parties, such as the Australian Veterinary Association, were also given the choice to select from options to indicate their support or opposition to the Application without providing a written component. Eighty-one (81) responses were received, including 59 supportive, 14 partially supportive and eight opposing.
Studies show animals benefit from THC
Medical cannabis treatments have been available for human therapeutic use since 2016. Since this time, the patient demand has been increasing, with more patients reporting a beneficial effect from these natural medicines.
However, up until now, access for animals is restricted. Vets are able to treat with cannabidiol (CBD) preparations but are not allowed to prescribe any medication containing tetrahydrocannabinols (THC).
“While case studies show that CBD can be beneficial with conditions like anxiety or inflammation, many more animal patients could benefit from medications containing THC and other components of the cannabis plant,” said Dr Calvo Blanco.
Like humans, all animals (except for insects) possess a cannabinoid system. This so-called endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a messaging system that regulates body functions such as sleep, appetite, digestive function, pain, inflammation as well as nerval protection. The ECS can respond positively to the intake of the active compounds from the cannabis plant.
“This has led to pet owners self-medicating their furry friends,” said Dr Calvo Blanco. “On top of it being illegal, this practice bears many risks, such as overdoses and the contamination of the plant material when sources are uncontrolled and unknown.”
By applying for the amendment, eCS Vet could expand the veterinary treatment options to further improve the care, health and wellbeing of Australian animals. Furthermore, eCS Vet wants to ensure safe access to cannabinoid products for veterinary patients, preventing illegal, unregulated and unstandardised forms of cannabis to risk injuring our animals.
eCS Vet, will continue to offer free education for the Australian veterinary industry and support pet owners to find the right treatment for their animal.
Available for Interview and Media Contact
Dr. Marta Calvo Blanco, eCS Vet
0423 887 432
IMAGES – please credit ‘eCS Vet’
About eCS Vet
eCS Vet is an education and service provider for the vet industry. It offers veterinarians, vet nurses, and other pet practitioners the support they need to prescribe cannabinoid medicines effectively and efficiently to pets in Australia. eCS Vet provides a range of medical cannabis Kensana products to suit each animal’s specific needs. Its integrated approach across health disciplines is designed to constantly enhance treatment guidelines and to create a national ‘best-practice’ for the prescribing of medical cannabis for animals. In addition, eCS Vet actively advocates for legal changes that improve access to cannabinoid-based medicines for animals and their owners.
Discover more at https://ecsvet.com/