I am a huge fan of the TV show Shark Tank. The dream of everyone that comes on the show, wants to get their products on the shelves of Costco, Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath & Beyond. The more people that see the product endorsed by these giants, the more people buy the product. This is the reasoning behind the athlete, and actor testimonials.
The same rule applies to the medical community, the more doctors that approve your product, the more patients you help, the more sales you make. This is a wise move, the medical community is larger and has more influence over more people than Wal-Mart, Costco, and Bed, Bath & Beyond combined. The sales from the nutritional products last year were 37 billion dollars, and the sales from pharmaceutical products were 247 billion dollars.
With those sales figures in mind, the Cannabis industry is desperately trying to find the exact formula that will lead to the approval of the medical insurance establishment and physicians as a whole. The manufacturers didn’t know what the medical establishment wanted, so they make different products with different ingredients trying for the right formula.
We in the medical insurance establishment asked for more studies, testing and clinical trials. Why? We want to know the risks of the manufactured products we approve or recommend. We don’t believe the hype; we want proof these products and their ingredients won't interact negatively with the body. We understand acceptable loss, we know nothing is perfect, and we know nothing is 100% safe; there are too just many variables in the manufacturing process.
The minute the Cannabis manufacturers changed the natural plant, they changed the way the body metabolizes the product. The ingredients you add increase the number of variables that interact with the body, resulting in possible harm. As I stated, we understand acceptable loss, we just want to know the risk vs. reward equation before we leap forward. We saw what the Cannabis industry did with edibles, it’s junk food with pot added to it, selling it as medicine. These products interact with drugs the patient is already ingesting, often negating their life-saving effects. These products alone did more damage to your combined credibility than any other product.
Physicians don’t know which products are safe, and nobody in the Cannabis Industry has gone to any lengths to educate them in a language they understand. We in the medical establishment know an accepted body like the FDA does not regulate Cannabis manufacturers. We know product consistency is and no industry standards for manufacturing. What is worse each manufacturer guided by advisors that know even less, produce products based on what they THINK the medical community wants, not what they need.
To gain approval from the medical community, there are two groups that you need to satisfy to have your products accepted and approved. The patients are the first group and their doctors are the second. It’s the patients that are in the pursuit of a long healthy happy life. In this pursuit, the patient performs exhaustive research for products that will either cure or prevent diseases from affecting their lives. The patient will then take these products to their physicians for their opinion and approval to use them.
The physician, with no time to research the product, reads the label and based on that information, has one of two answers for the patient:
1. No, the product doesn’t appear to be safe.
2. It doesn’t appear the product will harm you. So if you want, use it, it’s up to you.
The directives imposed by the insurance company for my Pain Management program were similar:
1. Save money,
2. Do not make the problem worse.
It took me two years, and arduous conversations with a litany of advisors, manufactures, and consultants to find products that fit this standard. We know raw Cannabis is native to the body just like any other raw supplement. It’s all the other combinations of ingredients that the Cannabis industry adds that give us cause.
We want science, not anecdotal evidence, we want to assess the risk connected with the product you manufacture. It’s the business of medicine; embrace it, because it will never change in our lifetimes.
This means when a patient brings in these products for approval, they have to fit our standards for approval. And frankly, the Cannabis manufacturers haven’t supplied the information we need to approve anything, especially an illegal substance that could lose us our licenses and life styles.
With that said:
1. We don’t approve products that contain THC, it's still a Class 1 drug that could lose us our licenses, lead to incarceration and loss of our livelihood.
2. We don’t approve MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) products.
3. We don’t approve products that are sold by infomercials or labeled “as seen on TV”.
4. We don’t approve products that have ingredients that conflict with the medications we prescribe.
5. We don’t approve products, which have sugar as one of the ingredients,
6. And we don’t approve products that are sold over the counter by CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine) Practitioners i.e. Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths, ET all.
Yep, we are picky, we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on our education, years of experience and we play in the big game. You think we are going to risk that for a product or a patient? Think again.
Yet manufacturers ignore and most of their advisors are ignorant of these rules. This denial of the rules has limited your ability to help the largest group of patients, the medically managed. The system will win! It always does, it's just a matter of time. You may not like the rules and you may not like what I say, it's neither right, wrong, fair or unfair, it is what it is, the business of medicine.
My expert advice, pick a lane. Find the market you want to enter, find someone that actually knows the rules (not some industry advisor), follow the rules, help people and sell your products.
To succeed you cannot be all things to all people. I understand this universal “cure” may be good for all people. That has nothing to do with the business of medicine. It never has and it never will.