Government’s health technology assessment review points to better access for patients

Today’s release of the Federal Government’s Health Technology Assessment Review highlights some key future developments in the way governments assess new prescription medicines and other medical technologies for subsidy.

“There are some recommendations in the report that will benefit government, industry and ultimately patients,” Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said.

“By and large, the experiment of a joint review by the Departments of Health and Ageing, and Finance and Deregulation, under the Better Regulation Ministerial Partnerships initiative, has worked well.

“A number of the review’s recommendations reflect emerging international best practice in the way new health technologies are assessed. They will improve the way the health system provides services to patients while reducing regulatory barriers for industry.

“Greater coordination between the evaluation processes for medicines, devices and testing is long overdue and is to be encouraged. For example, it should help avoid the situation where a new medicine has been approved for subsidy but patients find the relevant diagnostic test required to determine their eligibility for that medicine has not been approved.

“The recommendation to allow concurrent, rather than sequential, regulatory and reimbursement assessment processes is a sensible regulatory reform that has real potential to reduce the time patients must wait for new treatments to become available.

“Another key recommendation is that the Government explore ways to subsidise a new technology on a conditional or interim basis while further evidence is being collected.

These types of interim listing arrangements are starting to be used for subsidising new complex medicines overseas and can improve patient access to such therapies.

“Countries such as the United Kingdom, Denmark and France are looking at these arrangements and Australia should do the same.

“Similarly, the recommendations to explore the use of data linkage to assess the costs and benefits of a medical technology are welcome and will lead to better outcomes for patients. This is very much the way of the future.

“One area where more could be done is in patient and community interaction with the assessment system. There are a number of actions here the Review has identified that deserve further consideration because patients must be more engaged in this process.”

Medicines Australia’s submission to the HTA Review can be found here


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