Medicines Australia has signed a five-year Strategic Agreement with the federal government that will focus on earlier patient involvement and influence in the availability of new medicines in Australia.
The new Agreement sets out a hardworking, five-year plan that heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world.
“This Agreement, signed and supported by Minister Greg Hunt today, [7 September] will ensure what is important to patients is a priority focus in creating faster access to lifesaving medicines and treatments,” says Dr Anna Lavelle, Chair of Medicines Australia.
In a major step forward, the Agreement ensures patients will become fundamental contributors to the first independent review of Australia’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) system in nearly 30 years. The HTA system reviews new medicines and technologies before they are made available in Australia.
“This Agreement firmly demonstrates the government and industry’s shared goal of ensuring patient voices are heard earlier and new medicines are accessed faster. It is critical we capture patients’ experiences and realise the benefits of quickly evolving medicines and new technologies,” says Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia.
A new process will incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) assessment of medicines to be funded on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Earlier involvement will help to make the full value of new medicines clear, in terms of what is important to patients. The enhanced consumer engagement is expected to improve efficiencies in PBAC decisions and create faster access to lifesaving medicines and treatments.
“I want to thank and acknowledge Medicines Australia for their collaboration on these patient focused reforms and through successive Strategic Agreements which continue to provide significant benefits for Australian patients,” says Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Resilience in the PBS is critical for Australia’s future, for patients and for our economy. The Agreement provides more funding to be invested into the PBS in addition to at least $2.8b already expected from the New Medicines Funding Guarantee announced in October 2020. The injection of funds is necessary to allow future entry of the latest medical discoveries and innovative treatments as soon as they become available.
“The arrival of cell and gene therapies are just a few examples of how innovation is speeding ahead, providing hope for many Australians living with incurable cancers, viruses and rare diseases. We want to ensure patients can quickly receive these advancements,” says Ms de Somer.
A further benefit for patients, is a commitment in the Agreement to identify major advances in healthcare in future years through improved horizon scanning. This will be achieved in consultation with Government, industry and patients, and ensure Australia’s healthcare system can adequately prepare for changes ahead of time.
“I would like to thank the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, for his commitment to patients, who will benefit from these improvements, and to the pharmaceutical industry. It will take continued effort and effective partnerships between industry, Government and patients to optimise these achievements for the community and our economy,” says Dr Lavelle.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of ensuring Australia has a health care system that can adequately prepare for and adapt to changes. This Strategic Agreement will support the supply of medicines, treatments and vaccines and help us better prepare for future health challenges.”