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Czech Republic: Ministry of Health Proposes Public Health Insurance Companies Reimburse Patients for Medical Cannabis Costs

(Mar. 11, 2019) The Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic has proposed that 90% of patients’ monthly costs for up to 30 grams of medical cannabis be reimbursed by public health insurance companies. (Press Release, Ing. Gabriela Štěpanyová, Spokeswoman for Director of Public Relations Department, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Health Proposes Public Health Insurance Payment of 90% for Therapeutic Hemp (Jan. 29, 2019) (in Czech).)

The Czech Republic legalized the medical use of cannabis in 2013. (Law 50/2013 Coll. Act Amending Act No. 378/2007 Coll. on Pharmaceuticals and Amendments to Certain Related Acts (Act on Pharmaceuticals), as amended, [and] Act No. 167/1998 Coll., on Addictive Substances and on Amendments to Certain Other Acts, as amended, and Act No. 634/2004 Coll., on Administrative Fees, as amended (in Czech).)

However, till now, there has been no regulation to control the price of medical cannabis and make it more affordable for patients. Medical cannabis is not currently covered by health insurance.

The Ministry of Health proposed this measure as a response to the growing number of patients who are prescribed medical cannabis by their physicians but cannot afford its high price. According to the head of State Institute of Drug Control, in 2018 medical cannabis treatment was prescribed at least once to 447 new patients, more than three times as many as in the previous year. The number of registered prescribing physicians has increased sharply as well. In 2018 the State Institute of Drug Control registered 74 prescribing physicians. (Press Release, supra.) The Ministry also aims to establish stricter control over local growers of medical cannabis and the quality of medical cannabis that the patients receive.

The State Institute for Drug Control would regulate the price of medical cannabis and impose caps on the maximum surcharge. (Press Release, supra.) In order to control the use of the prescribed cannabis and monitor its effects, the Ministry of Health is also proposing that a policy of mandatory reporting by prescribing physicians be instituted. (Id.)