The QUEST Initiative is looking into quality of life in patients accessing medicinal cannabis so only medicinal cannabis prescription medicines will be used in this clinical study.
To ensure consistency across study participants, all products will be supplied by the same Australian manufacturer, Little Green Pharma. The products are all oral medications manufactured from whole-plant extracts into a medical grade cannabis oil. These medicinal cannabis oils come in a range of THC and CBD ratios, including a CBD only option. Your prescribing doctor will consider the appropriate product and ratio based on your medical condition and personal circumstances.
The Australian manufacturer has arranged distribution agreements to ensure participating patients can receive their medicinal cannabis oil product safely to their home.
You will be prompted to pay for the product before it is distributed. Payment can be made by credit or debit card via a secure payment gateway.
You will complete questionnaires at the following intervals:
- upon joining the study
- two weeks after first starting medicinal cannabis therapy
- monthly for 3 months and then once every two months (i.e. for months 5, 7 and 9)
- at 12 months.
On each occasion, the questionnaires will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Please note: You will need internet access to complete the questionnaires via a website on your smartphone, tablet or computer. You will then receive notifications by email to complete follow-up questionnaires.
Over 200 conditions have been approved to use medicinal cannabis as a treatment.
The most common condition medicinal cannabis is prescribed for is chronic pain (which covers many conditions including neck/back pain, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines). Other conditions the TGA has approved its use include cancer-related pain and/or nausea, neuropathic pain, endometriosis, sleep disorders, anxiety, PTSD, depression, MS, epilepsy, MND, autism, IBS/ IBD/ Crohns, Parkinson’s to name some of the more commonly prescribed conditions.
Having said that, there is no set list of eligible health conditions that can be considered for this study. A doctor and the relevant health authorities need to approve its use for the patient considering individual circumstances and if there is evidence or research showing therapeutic benefit from the use of medical cannabis in patients with a similar medical condition.
A doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis only after established treatments have been trialled and or have been unsuccessful, with the exception of palliative care.
Participating in this study is completely voluntary and you do not have to take part if you do not wish to do so. Your decision whether to participate will not affect your current or future relationship with the researchers or anyone else at the University of Sydney, and will not affect your current or future treatment at the clinic you are having treatment or relationships with your doctor or treating team.
If you decide to take part in the study and then change your mind later, you can withdraw at any time. You can do this by contacting the doctor who prescribed medicinal cannabis. If you withdraw from the study, you can still access the medication but will no longer receive your medicinal cannabis prescription at the participant study cost.
Submitting your completed questionnaire is an indication of your consent to participate in the study. If you change your mind about having your responses included in the study, you can withdraw them up to the point that the data has been analysed. After that point your data cannot be removed and will be included in the study.
All patients taking part in this study will be charged the same rate for their medicinal cannabis products regardless of the THC/CBD ratio. This cost is set at AUD150.00 per unit (bottle) plus $15 delivery.
The results from this study will also help future patients and their doctors to make better-informed decisions about this new treatment and understand the potential impact of medicinal cannabis on overall quality of life.
Yes, you are welcome to tell other people about The QUEST Initiative clinical study.
A doctor who has been registered with the University of Sydney team and have received training to screen, register, and support patients on The QUEST Initiative
Yes, doctor consultation fees are the responsibility of the participant. Participants will need to visit the doctor for their initial consultation and any subsequent visits the doctor recommends based on the patient’s individual medical circumstances.
Any doctor wishing to connect their patients with The QUEST Initiative clinical study must go through a short enrolment process with the University of Sydney QUEST study researchers. Doctors will receive the required resources and training which will enable them to recruit patients and support them throughout their journey on The QUEST Initiative.
There is no cost involved in becoming a QUEST registered doctor.
If you would like to request your doctor become a QUEST recruitment doctor, you can select ‘Option 2 – your doctor’ and complete a short form to enable the QUEST team to get in touch with your regular doctor.
You can tell us that you wish to receive feedback by ticking the relevant box on the consent form. After the study is finished, you will be emailed a one page summary of the overall results.
All clinical studies are conducted in accordance with the Victorian Health Records Act Privacy Principles. Therefore, your information will be kept confidential and you will not be identifiable in any publication of the results. Your consent to share your information with any other organisation will be obtained before information is released.
All study information will be collected via the University of Sydney research data capture system, REDCap, a secure web application that runs on the University of Sydney’s servers, ensuring data stays within the University of Sydney data centre.
We intend to give the information from this project to other researchers so that they can use it in their projects. Before we do so, we will take out all the identifying information so that the people we give it to won’t know whose information it is. They won’t know that you participated in the project and they won’t be able to link you to any of the information you provided.
If you wish to support your patient with QUEST, you will need to undertake a brief training session to register with The QUEST Initiative, which will enable you to invite patients to this study. This training session involves a brief study video conference call which is done in one simple session over the phone with the QOL team at the University of Sydney. Once completed, you will be granted access to all resources you require to invite patients to this study.
The QUEST team can support you with access to free education including an RACGP accredited course which can be completed online. You will also gain access to a medical portal which has application support, dosing chart information and more to assist you on your journey.
- Complete a five-minute online patient screening and registration questionnaire during the primary consult
- Prescribe medicinal cannabis following the ‘normal pathway’ – SAS B or Authorised Prescriber
- Upload SAS B or Authorised Prescriber paperwork and patient scripts into a portal for patients
As this study involves patients completing online questionnaires during the study, there are minimal obligations on the prescribing doctor.
If a patient would like to opt-out of the study, the prescribing doctor will be required to inform the University of Sydney researchers and plan an exit strategy to titrate the patient off the medicinal cannabis and monitor as per the initial standard patient monitoring plan submitted in the SAS application.
No, this is not a requirement of the study and completely optional. We will not add you to the website list unless you request to be on the directory.
When you complete the Enrolment Form for doctors, when you are asked ‘Would you like to be listed on the QUEST directory?’, make sure to tick the check box which says ‘Yes, I would like to see new patients’.
Participants in this study will be required to purchase their own medications. An Australian manufacturer of medicinal cannabis, Little Green Pharma, will be supplying their medicines to ensure product standardisation. Each patient taking part in this study will be charged the same cost of medicinal cannabis products set at AUD150.00 per unit (50mL bottle) +$15 delivery fee.
Please note: If a patient withdraws from the study, they can still access medicinal cannabis but will no longer receive the study participant rate as noted above.
Standard doctor consult fees also apply, and it is recommended patients discuss these fees with their doctor of choice.
It is not possible to advise patients exactly how much product they will require daily and the total costs of their medication. This is because dosing of medicinal cannabis remains highly individualised and relies on each patient working with their doctor to find the dose that works best for them where the benefits are maximised and any unwanted side effects are minimised.
A helpful guide to the average costs of medicinal cannabis products can be found in an independent report conducted by Freshleaf Analytics ‘Australian Medicinal Cannabis Market Patient, Product and Pricing Analysis – Q1 2020’. The report advised that the average patient paying full cost for medicinal cannabis is spending less than $10 per day.
As medicinal cannabis is still an unregistered product in Australia, these medications are not covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). As a result, patients are required to pay the entire cost of the medicine. There are some health insurers such as HIF that will offer a rebate for prescription medicines, but patients should contact their own insurer to discuss if this is indeed an option.
If you are visiting a new doctor, you will need to provide them with the following information so they can consider whether medical cannabis is a suitable treatment option for your individual medical circumstance:
- Previous medical history (specifically around the condition for which you would like to discuss medical cannabis as a treatment)
- Previous medications taken (for this same condition)
- List of your current medications
- Summary of past medical history and diagnosis (e.g. high blood pressure, asthma etc.)
It is important to bring this information to your consultation. You can request this information from your current practice or medical centre.
The best person to discuss this with is your GP or specialist medical practitioner.
Patients should be aware that currently:
- This treatment option is generally only considered where other medications have proven ineffective or were poorly tolerated by the patient, or where the patient is in palliative or end-of-life care.
- TGA approval applications (other than SAS A pathway) need to state if the medical practitioner making the application is the patient’s ‘usual’ doctor.
Your medical practitioner should have a good understanding of your medical conditions AND access to your medical records. Information regarding your condition may need to be submitted if an application is made to the TGA for medicinal cannabis.
As medical cannabis is a relatively new healthcare treatment option for Australian doctors, some practitioners may lack experience or not be comfortable prescribing medicinal cannabis. As most medicinal cannabis products are currently not TGA-approved, the regulatory framework also imposes different and generally more challenges and time-consuming requirements than those applicable to TGA-approved and established products.
If you would like more information on accessing medicinal cannabis please contact Little Green Pharma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have taken the screening quiz on the website and received a ‘You could be eligible’ response, the next step gives you the option to search for a QUEST recruitment doctor or your usual doctor.
If you select ‘Option 1 – QUEST recruitment doctor’ you will be taken to a directory of QUEST recruitment doctors which you can filter by state and by appointment type (telehealth, face-to-face).
In the directory, there is a book online or phone option for each doctor. Click on which option is best for you and follow the prompts.
Please note: you will not be able to see the directory until you have been through the screening quiz.
The QUEST Initiative is seeking eligible patients who are:
- 18+ years of age and living in Australia
- able to complete the questionnaires in English
- able to provide informed consent
- have access to the internet or a smart phone
- have not taken any type of prescribed cannabis therapy for four weeks before enrolling in the study
- suffering from a chronic condition with symptoms that have lasted for three months or more, and
- eligible for medicinal cannabis as a form of treatment
Only QUEST recruitment doctors can properly assess your eligibility to participate. However, you can check your potential eligibility by visiting this link.
Once available the de-identified results will be published in medical journals and other relevant publications. On completion of the study, participants receive a one-page lay summary of the results from the study researchers.
The Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) sheet found inside the box of your medicinal cannabis provides you with full details on possible side effects and actions to take should you experience any side effects. It is always recommended that you advise your prescribing doctor about any side effects and discuss how best to manage