Ten months after medical marijuana was legalized in Germany, a surprising total of over 13,000 patients have applied for it, reports Rheinische Post (RP).
The newspaper came to these findings after conducting a survey with three health insurance companies: Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK), Barmer and Techniker Krankenkasse (TK).
According to RP’s survey, most applications were received by AOK (7,600). 64 percent of these were approved. By the end of 2017, approximately 3,200 applications had been submitted to Barmer, of which just under 62 percent had been accepted. And by the end of November, TK had received some 2,200 applications for reimbursement. Here too, the approval rate was rather high at 64 percent.
Though two-thirds of the cases are usually approved, this does not necessarily mean that the rest have been rejected, an AOK spokesperson said, adding that applications aren’t always complete and patients have the opportunity to resubmit them.
Some patients who apply for the drug have no illnesses which are usually treated by marijuana. "Occasionally, these are cases of herniated discs which have so far only been treated with heat therapy," said the spokesperson. Patients with severe chronic pain on the other hand are permitted medical cannabis use.
Prior to legalization in March, only about 1,000 people in Germany had permission to use the drug for special medical purposes. The draft bill for its approval had estimated that 700 patients per year would require prescription.
When the law was drafted, how many patients would make use of it was not known. It is not possible to estimate "to what extent doctors and patients will make use of a prescription option for cannabis blossoms and cannabis extracts," the draft bill in April 2016 stated.
But cannabis is not a universal remedy, Mortler added.
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