Australians missing out on new medicines: report

A new report looking at patient access and public coverage of new medicines in industrialised countries shows that Australia ranks in the bottom third by many measures.

The Rx&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2009-10 ranks Australia 23rd out of 31 OECD countries in terms of expenditure on medicines as a proportion of GDP.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said: “In essence this report measures the willingness of governments to pay for new innovative pharmaceuticals and Australia doesn’t stack up too well.

“I imagine many Australians will be surprised and disappointed by these findings.

“It is quite confronting that Australia underspends the broader OECD on healthcare and innovative medicines.

“We assume that public funding of healthcare in Australia is high by global standards.

“However, Australia is falling behind other countries in making innovative medicines available to patients.

“This report challenges policy makers in Australia to seriously rethink the allocation of the public healthcare dollar.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Australia ranks 24th out of 30 countries for government’s share of national healthcare expenditure.
  • Australia ranks 19th out of 29 in terms of willingness to reimburse new medicines. Of the 150 medicines reviewed in the study, Australia reimburses 60 per cent, compared with the OECD average of 64 per cent.
  • The proportion of first-in-class medicines included in the study that were subsidised in Australia is 52 per cent compared with an OECD average of 65 per cent, ranking Australia 20th out of 29.
  • In terms of oncology medicines, Australia ranks 20th out of 29 countries when looking at the number of medicines that are subsidised.

The Rx&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2009-10 was commissioned by Rx&D, the Canadian research-based medicines industry association.

Dr Brendan Shaw is available for interview.


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