Falling exports call for new medicines industry strategy

Australia’s medicines exports fell by 13.5 per cent to $3.363 billion in 2013-14, the lowest level since the 2005-06 financial year, highlighting the need for a new emphasis on growing the Australian industry.

“While the Australian medicines industry remains one of Australia’s leading manufacturing exporters, a fall of 13.5 per cent in exports in one year is a real worry,” said Medicines Australia Chief Executive Dr Brendan Shaw.

“For years the medicines industry has been a beacon of hope in Australia’s innovative manufacturing sector, averaging $4 billion in exports each year for the past several years.

“While the downturn in Australia’s medicines exports may reflect ongoing restructuring in the Australian industry, fundamentally Australia has some real strengths and competitive advantages we must build on.

“What’s needed now to grow Australia’s innovative medicines industry is a supportive policy environment in PBS policy and intellectual property, reform in regulations for clinical trials and data, and initiatives to develop a competitive tax environment and a culture of collaboration between public research and private industry.

“There are examples of success stories in the sector, be it international companies manufacturing and exporting from Australia or fantastic R&D collaborations that are developing the next generation of medicines and vaccines for the global community.

“But the challenge now is to reverse this fall in medicines exports, and ensure we build capability for the future to develop new investment, jobs, exports and R&D for Australia.

“These are the ideas we have put to the Government and the Parliament and we are keen to develop a strategy to build on Australia’s strengths in medical research, clinical trials, manufacturing and exporting that demonstrates that we are open for business.”

Medicines Australia’s submission to the Senate Economics References Committee’s inquiry into the Australian innovation system can be found on the MA website.

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Alexia Vlahos
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