In this edition:

Learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Health sector here.

Medicinal cannabis arrives in Australia

Following a national shift towards the legal prescribing of cannabis-based medications in some circumstances, the first shipment of medicinal cannabis has arrived in Australia from Canada. At this stage, children suffering from epilepsy and cancer patients are most likely to benefit from these products.

The shipment arrived under new importation rules which aim to make medicinal cannabis more accessible to medical practitioners who believe it will be of clinical benefit to their patients. The government has also granted nine domestic licences for cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes, and manufacture of cannabis products.

Read the media release here.

Hospital accused of anti-competitive behaviour

The ACCC has accused Australia’s largest private hospital operator, Ramsay Healthcare Limited (Ramsay), of anti-competitive behaviour.

Ramsay owns and operates the only two private facilities in Coffs Harbour NSW. The ACCC has alleged that when a group of surgeons planned to establish a competing surgery, Ramsay management told them this may result in Ramsay reducing the surgeons’ access to operating theatres in Baringa Hospital. It claims the surgeons abandoned their plans as a result.

Anti-competitive behaviour is treated seriously by the ACCC. It alleges this behaviour stifles competition in private and independent medical practices. Competition has benefits for the local community, such as reduced costs, shorter waiting lists and better access to medical procedures, as surgeries compete to provide the best service.

More information can be found here.

Responsible advertising of health services

The National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) have published a strategy for the National Scheme to help keep consumers safe from misleading advertising. The strategy explains how the National Boards and AHPRA will manage advertising complaints and compliance for health services and registered health practitioners under the National Law.

Under the National Law, a regulated health service or a business providing a regulated health service must not advertise in a way that:

  • is false, misleading or deceptive;
  • offers gifts, discounts or other inducements without explaining the terms and conditions of the offer;
  • uses a testimonial or a purported testimonial;
  • creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment;
  • directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services; and/or
  • identifies a practitioner as a specialist when they do not hold registration as a specialist or as an endorsed practitioner in a health profession.

This strategy builds on the previous education and enforcement work from the National Boards and AHPRA and will be supported by publishing new materials to help health practitioners understand their advertising obligations both legally and professionally.

Read the strategy here.

Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology

The National Health and Medical Research Council has revised the “Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research” for the first time in 10 years. Professional organisations use the guidelines to establish standards for practice in assisted reproductive technology.

The guidelines are used in conjunction with Commonwealth and State legislation to ensure those who practice in assisted reproductive technology meet their ethical and legal obligations.

The guidelines provide background and introductory material for the clinical practice of assisted reproductive technology and for research consistent with the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002. The guidelines cover matters such as posthumous use of gametes, surrogacy, donor conception, gender selection and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

Read the guidelines here.