Responding to the challenge of COVID-19
As a Nation, we are facing one of the biggest global health challenges of our time. At home and around the world people are facing uncertainty, anxiety and new ways of living their lives.
As an industry, we recognise the critical role we must play, both in the urgent response to this rapidly evolving health crisis, but also in the recovery of Australia. To succeed, every aspect of the Australian healthcare delivery system has an essential role to play and it is imperative, we work together now in a collaborative and supportive way.
On this page
Our Current Priorities
As an industry and member of the Australian community – our critical priorities, at the present time, must be:
- Focusing our expertise and capabilities in the fight against COVID19 – to uncover the urgently needed measures to protect and treat the community
- Ensuring the supply of essential medicines to patients in our community who need them.
- Working collaboratively with Government and other organisations to actively manage and pre-empt the healthcare delivery needs as they emerge
- Recognising and supporting Australia’s healthcare professionals working on the frontline.
Our immediate focus is in three areas:
- Fighting COVID19 – directing our innovative efforts to fight the coronavirus
- Medicine Supplies – maintaining supply of essential medicines
- Responsibility & Commitment – supporting science and evolving healthcare
- On a local and global level the industry is working together, alongside leading research institutions and Governments, to focus research efforts and share expertise – including diagnostic testing capability, potential compounds, new therapies and data on registered medicines and vaccines.
- As potential treatments or vaccines are
discovered the industry stands ready to apply its clinical trial expertise to
ensure they are safe and effective and can be developed as quickly as possible.
- Global estimates are 80 clinical trials currently underway (IFPMA)
- Existing medicines may now provide the treatment bridge while we uncover vaccines or the cure. Treatments for malaria, multiple sclerosis and anti-viral medicines are now being tested in patients with COVID-19.
- Globally and locally, our manufacturing facilities are ready to ramp-up production as new solutions emerge.
- The supply of essential medicines to Australians who rely on them is our priority commitment.
- We are working in close partnership with Federal (and State) Governments and the local healthcare community to respond to the unprecedented surge in demand.
- We endorse the Government messages to reassure patients and the community their medicines are available and stockpiling is unnecessary.
- As an industry our companies are working around the clock to monitor and assess our supplies, locally and globally, to ensure they can get to where they are needed
- Our manufacturing facilities around the world are open and continue to make millions of doses of medicines and vaccines every day. Strict measures are in place to ensure our teams and facilities are protected and able to maintain production.
- As a responsible industry we are continuing to support Australian healthcare workers working on the front-line. The health of patients, the community and healthcare workers are the industry’s utmost priority and will continue to be as this crisis unfolds.
- During this unprecedented time we will ensure patient groups and relevant organisations are kept fully updated with information to share with their communities.
- Our collaboration with research institutions will continue to ensure they have support needed to maintain their important scientific work. This includes maintaining clinical trials, where feasible, to facilitate their completion and assessment.
- We are leading and supporting new and innovative ways to interact efficiently with the health professional community and create new forms of healthcare delivery– including treatment within the home, remote telehealth capabilities and virtual training.
- We continue to work with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to introduce new medicines and vaccines as they become available.
Industry efforts to combat COVID-19
Medicines Australia and our members are actively working with researchers on a range of initiatives involved in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and vaccination against coronavirus (COVID-19) both domestically and globally.
As an industry, and individually we are also working with the Government, Department of Health and the TGA to ensure vaccination or treatment options can be brought to those who need them quickly and efficiently.
Developing partnerships to boost research
Medicines Australia members are developing collaborative partnerships with researchers, universities, the CSIRO and other scientific organisations in order to augment all areas of research and development, including evaluating how pandemic preparedness platforms can potentially be tailored to address the coronavirus emergency, leveraging existing R&D partnerships to accelerate development of antiviral agents against COVID-19 and contribute both resources and expertise to various R&D consortia to address the outbreak.
Managing the medicines supply chain in Australia
The medicines supply chain is complex, with multiple dependencies across sectors, nevertheless it is effective and efficient. Medicines manufacturers are committed to ensuring supply of the medicines that Australians need when they need them.
The impact of significant national crises’ does place pressure on such things as the medicines supply chain, particularly as Australia relies heavily on importation of medicines and domestic manufacturing is limited.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are currently assessing manufacturing information and engaging with the medicines industry and individual companies to identify products that may be subject to supply disruptions, as well as liaising with regulators in the US, Canada, Europe and UK to gather information about the global supply situation.
Medicines Australia is assisting the Department of Health to identify any potential issues relating to supply of essential medicines and to ensure measures are in place to mitigate any shortages or impacts relating to supply concerns.
In some cases, this could involve leveraging safety stocks of existing medicines, sourcing ingredients from other geographic areas or activating alternative manufacturing facilities.
In the event of potential or actual shortages, this will be communicated at all medical, hospital and pharmacy levels, where there are also plans in place to ensure that a suitable clinical alternatives are found.
We have heard that health professional groups are concerned about the potential for local shortages to be caused by stockpiling.
There is no need for Australians or pharmacies to stockpile medicines. We strongly urge consumers to adhere to their prescribing instructions and to talk to their medical practitioner or pharmacist should they be concerned.
For more information about medicines shortages, please visit https://apps.tga.gov.au/Prod/msi/search?shortagetype=All