Germany’s pensioner-dominated medical cannabis market demanded 1,650 pounds of flower in Q1 2019

A survey published by the BfArM demonstrated a fairly balanced gender ratio in terms of the country’s medical cannabis patient group

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Older patients are steering Germany’s medical cannabis market, with the biggest patient group comprising residents aged between 50 and 59 years of age. 

This is according to the latest data published by the German government, which also highlights swelling market demand for cannabis flower; in the first quarter of 2019 (Q1 2019), the European country’s flower imports exceeded 1,650 pounds. Considering those figures, Germany is on track to import the equivalent or more cannabis that it did last year. In 2018, 6,600 pounds of medicinal-grade cannabis was imported into the country for patient consumption.

In order to comply with the German Medicinal Products Act, cannabis can only be sold after a patient has obtained a prescription from a licensed doctor.

Preliminary data from German government spotlights Europe’s biggest medical cannabis market

A survey published by the BfArM short for “Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte” or “German: Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices” in English demonstrated a fairly balanced gender ratio in terms of the country’s medical cannabis patient group.

In regards to age, the preliminary results of the survey revealed that approximately 25 percent of Germany’s medical cannabis patient demographic constitutes people aged 50-59 years, whereas a broader age group of 40-79 years constitutes 75 percent of the total.

The survey also explored the main reasons for doctors prescribing medical cannabis in Germany; almost half of the country’s patients were prescribed pot by anesthesiologists. Numerous studies have explored the analgesic potential of cannabinoids, with a 2009 study confirming that “cannabinoids act synergistically with opioids and act as opioid sparing agents, allowing lower doses and fewer side effects from chronic opioid therapy.”

Approximately two-thirds of Germany’s medical cannabis patients were treated with a synthetic compound called Dronabinol. This medicine contains cannabis-derived cannabinoids. An additional 21 percent of patients were treated with cannabis flower and 13 percent with Sativex medicines. Sativex is a botanical cannabis-based drug specially designed to relieve stiffness and spasms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS).

Some side effects were experienced by patients being treated with medical cannabis in Germany; 16 percent experienced fatigue and 13 percent experienced dizziness. Prior to being prescribed with their cannabis-based medicine, a third of patients endured symptoms for a year and 20 percent experienced symptoms for three years or less.

Almost 130,000 units of Sativex were imported into Germany during Q1 2019

According to data released by the government, nearly 130,000 units of a patented pharma product called Sativex were imported in the first quarter of this year. Manufactured by British company GW Pharmaceuticals, the peppermint-flavored spray is made from the whole plant and contains a CBD to THC ratio of 1:1. The balanced cannabinoid ratio is favored by patients and doctors alike for the accurate dosing that this type of medication provides. The concentrated form of cannabis is commonly used as an anti-spasticity medication.

Based on the data, which was gleaned from 4,774 patients, 69 percent were prescribed cannabis for the treatment of pain and 11 percent used it to treat spasticity. A further 22 percent used it to treat a tumor and the remaining seven percent for multiple sclerosis (MS).