Australians living with one of 200 chronic conditions may now be eligible to participate in what is expected to become the world’s largest study into the impact of medicinal cannabis treatment on health economic outcomes and quality of life for patients suffering from chronic health conditions.
The QUEST Global study, led by Curtin University and sponsored by medicinal cannabis supplier Little Green Pharma (LGP), with the support of HIF, will assess whether medicinal cannabis reduces the economic impact of chronic disease, by reducing both the number of medications a patient requires and their need for healthcare services.
QUEST Global follows the success of the original, award-winning QUEST Initiative. Early findings from the QUEST Initiative have demonstrated significant improvement in participant quality of life indicators, which include metrics such as mobility, functionality, pain, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.
QUEST Global will focus on a more detailed assessment of health economic outcomes, including the potential for medicinal cannabis to reduce the number of medications a patient requires and their need for healthcare services.
HIF members will have priority access as participants to the study, provided they meet the eligibility criteria*. Study participants will be able to access medicinal cannabis products at a discounted rate, with all medications supplied by LGP from $135 per 50ml bottle or $130 per 10g sachet (including delivery). HIF members will receive benefits towards the medicinal cannabis products that are part of the QUEST Global study (subject to eligibility+).
Eligible HIF members not part of the study can continue to claim a $25 rebate on LGP branded medicinal cannabis oil products and medicinal cannabis flower products until 30 June 2024*.
HIF CEO Justin James said the not-for-profit health insurer had enjoyed a partnership with Little Green Pharma since 2020 and was proud to continue supporting studies into the health benefits of medicinal cannabis.
“At HIF, our focus is on providing more choice and access to our members when it comes to treatment. We believe this study, like the QUEST Initiative, will provide insights that will be valuable not just to HIF and its members but the industry as a whole.”
Lead researcher Associate Professor Richard Norman, from Curtin’s School of Population Health, said QUEST Global aims to address real health challenges faced by many in our community.
“People living with chronic conditions such as pain, anxiety, insomnia and mood, development or movement disorders face significant challenges that impact their everyday life. Using medicinal cannabis as a treatment option can help to improve their outcomes and reduce their level of suffering and this study is an opportunity to quantify this,” Associate Professor Norman said.
“As part of the study, participants can access pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oils and flower medications made locally, as well as book a range of affordable, independent doctors who are experienced medical cannabis prescribers.
“We hope to gain more information about the benefits of using medicinal cannabis to treat chronic conditions and how we can make these types of medications more economical going forward.”
LGP Head of Research and Innovation Dr Leon Warne said he was excited to be partnering with Curtin on this initiative, drawing on its strong reputation for quality research with real-world impact.
“QUEST Global seeks to assess changes in participants conditions, symptoms and economic factors related to health using self-reported outcomes. Information on patient quality of life via mobility, functionality, pain or discomfort, sleep issues, anxiety and depression, medication and health service utilisation will also be collected and analysed,” Dr Warne said.
“The increased focus on health economics in QUEST Global will mean ongoing costs will be analysed and provide a framework for thinking about how Australia should allocate its limited health resources to meet people’s demands and needs for health care services, health promotion and prevention.”
The launch of the QUEST Global study has been driven by highly favourable interim results from the study’s forerunner, the QUEST Initiative. Preliminary findings from this study have indicated significant improvements in the quality of life for Australians living with chronic conditions. These positive and clinically meaningful results are being compiled for peer-review and publication in due course.
The project was endorsed by MS Research Australia, Arthritis Australia, Chronic Pain Australia, Epilepsy Action Australia and HIF, the first Australian health fund to publicly declare support for medicinal cannabis treatments and provide rebates on these products.
In recognition of its importance in providing reliable, objective and clinically-relevant quality of life data for patients using medicinal cannabis treatments for chronic conditions, the QUEST Initiative was recently crowned the ‘R&D Project of the Year’ at the inaugural Cannabiz Awards 2023.
The new QUEST Global study will be conducted over five years and has no cap on candidate numbers.
Patients and prescribers wanting to learn more about QUEST Global or wishing to potentially participate can visit the website here.
* To confirm eligibility criteria, visit https://www.thequestinitiative.com/
+ HIF will pay a benefit towards the medicinal cannabis products that are part of the QUEST Initiative, if members hold HIF Extras cover that includes Pharmacy. Benefits are subject to individual policy limits and waiting periods.