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Clinical Trials Action Group

The Clinical Trials Action Group was set up in October 2009 to help “cement Australia’s position as a good place to conduct clinical trials”. It was co-chaired by then Parliamentary Secretaries for Health (Hon Mark Butler MP) and Innovation (Hon Richard Marles MP), and other members included Dr Tim Dyke of the National Health & Medical Research Council (NMHRC), Mitch Kirkman of Novartis Australia and Professor Jim Bishop, then the Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer.

In its report, which was released in March 2011, the Action Group made over 20 recommendations, mostly aimed at improving patient recruitment and making the process of initiating new clinical trials in Australia significantly more efficient.

In remarks at the Medicines Australia Parliamentary Dinner in March, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, said that the Australian Government has accepted the Action Group’s recommendations. He added that these reforms “will lead to improved productivity and have benefits for Australian patients, industry, researchers and governments”. In addition, the Minister for Health & Ageing, Nicola Roxon MP, said in a media release that implementing the Action Group’s recommendations will help “keep Australian clinicians at the cutting edge of medical science”.

Medicines Australia strongly supports the Action Group’s recommendations and we have been working closely with the relevant Government departments, including the departments of Health & Ageing and Innovation & Industry and the NHMRC, to ensure their rapid implementation.

The NHMRC is responsible for implementing a majority of the Action Group’s recommendations; it provides regular progress reports which are available on its website

The Department of Innovation & Industry is also responsible for the implementation of some of the Action Group’s recommendations, most importantly the development of a consumer-friendly clinical trials website. In May 2011, it commissioned a feasibility study to consider the design and content of the proposed website, with a final report expected to be released in August. Meanwhile, the Department has also been working with the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) to develop materials to improve public awareness in Australia about the benefits of conducting and participating in clinical trials.

Finally, a group called the CTAG Coordination Group was established to oversee the implementation of the Action Group’s recommendations. It consists of representatives from industry, state and federal governments and the CHF. The Coordination Group’s second meeting was held in Canberra on 25 July, and the outcomes of the meeting were published online on the Department of Innovation & Industry’s website