Welcome to the first edition of Medicines Matter, a quarterly update for Health Consumer Organisations (HCOs) and the patients they serve. Given this is our first edition, we want to encourage you to provide feedback so that we are being relevant on issues and topics for you. Let us know what you want to see in the next quarterly update; Medicines Matter. What topics would you find beneficial for us to address? Please tell us what you think by sending an email to Petrina Keogh.
It’s been a tough start to the new year. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to all those impacted by the tragic effects of the bushfire crisis. It is with huge admiration that we watch our firefighters, emergency services, volunteers and charities who are rallying together to support those Australians effected. We grieve for those that have lost their lives, those who have lost their properties and for our iconic wildlife and environment.
We thought we would start the new year by launching Medicines Matter, the purpose of this e-newsletter is to provide you with an update on important policy and access issues that have an impact on medicines delivery and availability and an opportunity for you to tell us the issues that matter to you.
Consumers are at the very centre of our health system. Health issues matter to you and through you, patients are mobilising a stronger voice that is influencing and shaping health policy. Our Industry shares significant common ground with consumers who rely on medicines and health services, particularly the value of improving your health outcomes, as well as the importance of fair, equitable and timely access to medicines.
A strategically coordinated and meaningful, industry dialogue with HCOs and their members has never been more critical. With this in mind, Medicines Australia has re-established a Consumer Advocacy Working Group (CAWG) drawing from the experts within our membership. The CAWG are aiming to work more closely and effectively with peak consumer groups, HCOs and patients to ensure the patient voice is properly represented and can be heard on relevant issues where we share a common interest.
The CAWG’s vision is to create a strong relationship built on trust and transparency to enable accelerated access to medicines for the patients that need them. The CAWG wants to amplify your calls to action and strengthen the collective voice.
Medicines Australia’s Stakeholder Relations Manager, Petrina Keogh, has been reaching out to HCOs and patients to gain a deeper understanding of your challenges. She will continue to do this and will lead the industry members to find ways to address your concerns and ensure the patient voice continues to be loud.
As part of the industry’s ethical framework for interactions with healthcare professionals, the Government relies on prescription medicines manufacturers to abide by the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct. It has been suggested in Petrina’s early meetings with you that there is a need for greater understanding amongst HCOs and patient groups about the Code of Conduct and the perceived barriers that it imposes on industry’s interactions with HCOs.
Medicines Australia will be launching Edition 19 of the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct early this year. To help give clarity and build understanding, we will be leading several educational initiatives in the first quarter of this year, including a resources toolkit and a series of educational sessions tailored to various stakeholders including HCOs. We will continue to update you on these events and look forward to seeing you at these sessions.
Also, there will be review of the National Medicines Policy, announced by the Minister for Health prior to the May election. The National Medicines Policy is the foundation of the PBS and access to medicines for Australian patients. It is therefore critical that stakeholders, including HCOs and patients, work together to ensure that we have a policy that is fit for purpose and can accommodate the growing and ageing population, increasing burdens of disease and the changing dynamic of medicines delivery. Australian patients deserve access to emerging, transformative medicines and therapies in a timely manner. Medicines Matter, to patients and to the community.
We are looking forward to participating in this important patient-led initiative and would welcome any early thoughts you have, prior to the review being officially opened in March. Please refer to Medicines Australia Update section in this e-newsletter for further information.
I hope you enjoy this quarterly update and I look forward to continuing our important work together.
Elizabeth de Somer