Reimbursed sales of medical cannabis in Germany grew by 34 percent in 2020

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Data released via the primary insurer of German residents shows that reimbursed sales of medical cannabis in the European country increased by 34 percent last year.

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV), whose members offer coverage for 90 percent of the German population, have published data relating to medical cannabis usage through the duration of 2020.

Based on the data, reimbursed medical cannabis sales were valued at €165 million last year, which is equivalent to USD$200 million. Sales reached new highs of €43 million (USD$52 million) in Q4 of 2020.

The data confirms that Germany’s medical cannabis market has been on a progressive incline between 2019 and 2020. However, it’s worth noting that the data does not include GW Pharmaceuticals’ newly-added product Epidiolex, nor does it include private cannabis sales.

Combined sales of raw and prepared flowers sunk 14 percent from Q1 to Q4

In terms of sales, Prohibition Partners’ analysts say that raw flowers and flowers hit the topspot as the most integral types of medicine. On the other hand, the data shows that these categories are also declining faster than any other. For example, from Q1 to Q4, sales of raw and prepared flowers combined plummeted by 14 percent.

The German medical cannabis market’s fastest-growing area of sales was Epidiolex, which surged 72 percent between Q1 and Q4. Last year, Epidiolex sales amounted to €16 million (equivalent to USD$19.5 million). This reflects similar happenings in the European market of Denmark, where the introduction of Epidiolex experienced major sales growth amid a surge in CBD medicine prescriptions.

It seems that a large chunk of medical cannabis sales in Germany moved from pharmacy-produced extracts to unauthorized pharmaceuticals, such as Dronabinol and finished products. 

In fact, the second-fastest growing segment of the market constituted sales of finished products, including cannabis-enriched oils produced by major companies like Cannamedical and Tilray. 

Although this area of the market grew 72 percent from Q1 to Q2, the category makes up a mere six percent of total sales.

In total, the flower segment of Germany’s medical cannabis market slumped by eight percent from the start to the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the extracts and pharmaceuticals segments each surged four percent. Examples of the extracts included in this segment are as follows:

  • Full spectrum extracts
  • Finished products
  • Unauthorized pharmaceuticals, e.g. Dronabinol

Pharmaceuticals contained in the report included Canemes, Epidiolex and Sativex.

It should be noted that cannabis medication sales are not included in the GKV report. Moreover, the data comprises sales pertaining to cannabis flowers — as opposed to other types of products — which, analysts say, effectively impacts the overall market share.

Numerous countries are supplying Germany’s medical cannabis market

As outlined in the recently published European Cannabis Report, GKV researchers predict that Germany’s medical cannabis patient count topped 128,000 by the time last year came to an end.

The European country, which is home to some 83 million people, receives its supply from a vast array of countries, such as Australia, Canada, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal and Uruguay; the latter of which was the first country on the planet to fully legalize cannabis.

Within the first half of this year, domestically-produced cannabis will be delivered to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) from producers and distributed among patients before the end of the year.