Federal Budget vision must extend beyond election day to secure better long-term health for all Australians
28 March 2022: Medicines Australia is hoping tomorrow’s Budget reveals a long-term vision for health with strong investments in the PBS, science and innovation to ensure faster access for Australians to new medicines, vaccines, and treatments in the decades ahead.
Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, said the Budget must reflect important lessons learnt from Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Budget vision for health must extend well beyond the upcoming federal election,” Ms de Somer said.
“We need health policy and investment to meet future needs, including preparedness for inevitable future pandemics.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided irrefutable evidence that the Government must act now to protect the future health of the Australian population.
“Australia avoided the worst impacts of the virus by following the best scientific and health advice, securing innovative vaccines , and getting Australians vaccinated in large numbers as quickly as possible.
“Guaranteeing Australians rapid access to innovative vaccines saved lives.
“Medicines save lives and improve quality of life. Rapid access to medicines must become standard practice in Australia.
“But Australians currently wait significantly longer than other similar countries when it comes to access to new medicines
“On average, over 60 per cent of medicines become available to patients within 6 months, but in Australia it is just 22 per cent.
“For patient access to new medicines, Australia is lagging. We should be a world leader.
“In our Budget Submission, we ask the Government to set a policy and investment course for Australia to be in the top 5 of similar OECD countries by 2027,” Ms de Somer said.
Medicines Australia has provided the Government with a suite of recommendations to help achieve our shared objective of a world-class health system that provides patients with faster access to medicines, vaccines, and treatments now and into the future, including:
- Australia to be in top 5 of similar OECD countries by 2027 for speed of patient access to new medicines;
- Investment to ensure medicines remain a pillar of the Australian health system alongside hospitals, public and private health services; and the health workforce – doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and carers;
- A collaborative approach to reviewing the National Medicines Policy (the first review in more than 20 years), with greater consultation with stakeholders, especially patient groups. Minister Hunt last week announced an extension of consultation until after the Federal election, which is expected in May;
- Making the review of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) system a priority for the next Government. The independent HTA review will enable one of the biggest health reforms in Australia for more than 30 years;
- Reducing Australia’s discount rate for medicines from 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent, as recommended in countries such as Canada and England; and
- Ensuring that the views and experiences of patients and patient organisations are an integral part of Government decision-making on new medicines.
All these recommendations are consistent with the 5-year Strategic Agreement that Medicines Australia signed with the Federal Government in 2021.
The Opposition has committed to the Strategic Agreement, the Health Technology Assessment, and the National Medicines Policy should it form Government following the upcoming election.
The Medicines Australia Budget Submission 2022-23 is available here.
More information on the discount rate for medicines is available here.
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