Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Transcending Controversy

"The College hasn't heard anything about physicians allegedly receiving 'kickbacks' from marijuana producers. [But] this practise would absolutely be in contravention of the professional standard on conflict of interest."
"If admitted or proven, a disciplinary consequence would be likely."
Susan Prins, spokesperson, College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia

"[Health Canada is]actively looking into the issue."
"Health Canada expects that all licensed producers will adhere to a high standard of ethical conduct."
Andre Gagnon, spokesperson, Health Canada
Tilray recall Inspectors conducting a routine Health Canada test found bacteria in three of Tilray's blends at its medical marijuana facility in Nanaimo requiring a recall last year.

Cannabis use has been legally authorized in Canada for health purposes. A physician must prescribe marijuana for the purpose of relieving symptoms of a medical condition, for coping with pain, to enable someone suffering from that condition to live a more comfortable life when possible. And throughout Canada there exists a controlled number of marijuana suppliers, growers of marijuana for medicinal purposes, who are authorized to supply the cannabis through license.

Another group appears to have emerged, called 'aggregators', described as middlemen who act as roving salesmen, as it were, to sign up patients to direct them to particular physicians and marijuana producers. This accommodating triangle aids the principals to ensure a pathway to the product which benefits the prescribing physician, the producer and the aggregators since everyone is meant to receive a percentage of the trade that ensues.

Under federal law physicians are not meant to prescribe a specific brand of marijuana. Despite which it appears that some within the medical profession have taken to steering their patients toward specific cannabis suppliers. For this 'favour' there is an expectation of payback, according to members within the industry themselves, who have reported this lapse into greed at the prospect of making money where none should be expected.

A government-approved pot grower has blown the whistle as it were, with the information that payments such as these "kickbacks" are beginning to sully the trade. Tilray which grows medical pot out of Nanaimo, B.C., has complained that former clients have been re-directed to other growers, by doctors who appear to be paid on the side for their referrals.

The company has received unsolicited invoices from two different doctors, three clinics and two "patient aggregators", requesting payment or a share of cannabis sales. Some of the invoicing requires $50 per patient referred, and others have suggested they be paid up to $350. Some of the aggregators have made proposals to the producer which would give them up to 20 percent of a producer's revenue.

A patient advocacy group has added its voice, describing numerous complaints from those who have been directed by a marijuana-prescribing doctor to a very specific producer. Most people who depend on medical marijuana have their own preferences, and shop around to discover the supplier they feel meets their needs, according to a spokesperson for the Medicinal Cannabis Patients' Alliance.

Doctors, in their defence, argue that they provide services which are unpaid. Such as how to use marijuana vaporizers. Others point out the cost in time and service to verify patient information for producers. The new federal system, altering the established one a year, ago requires that patients obtain an approval for medicinal marijuana from a doctor assessing their medical condition. That approval permits patients to order pot product from any of around 25 licensed producers country-wide.

This sets yet another new standard for greed on the part of those members of the medical establishment who have agreed to service their patients' needs, but at an additional cost and a boost to the doctors' income in a profession that is already very well compensated for the indispensable services it provides, but in which some of its members see themselves profiting where their professional standards hold they should not.

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