Health spending must be treated as investment in healthy ageing, National Press Club told

Government health expenditure should be regarded as a key investment in Australia’s ageing population and productivity rather than a burden on the public purse, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw told the National Press Club today.

Speaking at the first National Press Club Health Forum, Dr Shaw said investment in innovative medicines and other health technologies will play an important role in ensuring Australia’s ageing population remains healthy and productive.

“We think of spending on education as an investment in productivity and workforce participation,” Dr Shaw said.

“Health spending is not often regarded the same way and it absolutely should be.

“Medical technologies like medicines and medical devices play an important role in improving the health of Australians as well as the economy.

“There is no doubt that one of the reasons why Australians are living longer, have a better quality of life and are actively involved in society is precisely because of this spending on medical technologies like medicines, devices and procedures.

“There are broad, economic and society-wide benefits coming from new medicines.

“Arthritis treatments will allow sufferers to continue working, where at the moment they can’t.

“Future treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease could have significant cost savings for the health system and carers.

“The top three medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stomach ulcers and age-related macular degeneration.

“Medicines keep patients out of hospital, shorten hospital stays when they are required, reduce the number of surgical procedures and delay the need for aged care.

“The chief problem is that the benefits of medical technology are not being given sufficient air time in the debate over health spending.

“Health budgets need to be managed, but health also offers great opportunities for society. We need to get the balance right.”


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