Prioritise investment in the PBS to improve access to all cancer medicines
Medicines Australia response to the Senate Select Committee report “Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates”
The 25 recommendations released in the Senate Select Committee report reveal the challenges Australia faces to ensure that all Australians get access to the treatments and medicines they need when they need them, regardless of the type of disease.
The report recommendations are a comprehensive response to the issue and cover research funding and coordination; clinical trial awareness, access and approvals for treatment; improving early detection and identification; repurposing existing medicines; fast-tracking innovative treatments and the utilisation of genomic research; patient care; costs; and navigation through the disease processes.
Medicines Australia particularly supports the Senate Committee’s recommendations that call for a more flexible approach for the listing of breakthrough medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
When handing down the report Committee member Senator Stirling Griff said, “there’s also a need to rethink the one-size-fits-all approach to cancer treatment and to eliminate the regulatory hurdles that prevent patients accessing the most appropriate therapy for their particular tumours”.
Medicines Australia Chief Executive Million Catelin says the industry strongly supports this view but Australia must also consider how it will continue to afford breakthrough treatments without considering the future funding of the PBS.
“The treatments for diseases such as cancer are becoming more targeted, more effective but ultimately more expensive to develop, so the easier you make it to list breakthrough medicines on the PBS, the faster these treatments get to the Australians who need them,” said Mr Catelin.
“However, you need to ensure enough money is invested in the PBS going forward to pay for these treatments.”
“Australia already pays some of the lowest prices in the world for innovative medicines and the industry will continue to offer taxpayers incredible value for money, but the PBS has seen no growth in expenditure for almost a decade and that will become increasingly unsustainable in the future.”
“The challenge at all times for industry is to offer value for money for the PBS and for taxpayers; the challenge for governments is ensuring that the PBS is fully funded so that Australians get access to the medicines they need when they need them.”
“We understand the challenge this presents for governments now and in the future, but at some stage we all have to concede that more money is needed and the access to these sometimes life-saving treatments is worth it.”
Medicines Australia also strongly supports the Senate Committee’s recommendations to harmonise, streamline and better fund the clinical trials environment in Australia.
“The innovative pharmaceutical industry invests in about 1000 clinical trials per year within Australia at a cost of about $270 million,” said Mr Catelin.
“We need to have a clinical trials sector that continues to attract investment from industry and the committee’s recommendations to make the listing of some medicines on the PBS more flexible will help to encourage this investment.”
“Medicines Australia would like to send our personal thank you to all Committee member Senators, in particular the Chair Senator Catryna Bilyk, who has been tireless in her work to raise awareness of the issue, and a passionate advocate for improved access to cancer medicines,” said Mr Catlin.
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