Medicines Australia calls for new National Medicines Policy (NMP) to be pushed back until after the Federal Election

4 February 2022: Medicines Australia is today calling for the new National Medicines Policy (NMP) to be pushed back until after the Federal election, expected in May.

CEO of Medicines Australia, Elizabeth de Somer, said that the NMP Review Consultation Draft, released quietly online this week, has put cost savings ahead of better health outcomes for the Australian community, and has allowed only two weeks for stakeholder feedback.

“The new National Medicines Policy is far too important to be rushed. Medicines Australia believes the Government must hit the pause button and allow more detailed examination and consultation on the Draft,” Ms de Somer said.

“The National Medicines Policy affects all Australians. We must learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic. The views of industry, medical and public health experts and organisations, clinicians, patient groups and the general public must be heard and acknowledged.”

“Many of the smaller key stakeholders, including groups that represent patients with serious and rare diseases, do not have the time or the resources to adequately respond to the Draft NMP within the 14-day deadline.”

“Genuine and honest feedback on this important policy cannot be achieved in two weeks with an online process. It needs proper debate, discussion, and a priority to put health ahead of other factors. The Government must delay the new National Medicines Policy until after the election.”

Medicines Australia will be writing to Minister Hunt to urge him to pause the finalisation of the revised NMP. The current document risks missing the Government’s stated objective to ensure that Australia’s National Medicines Policy is modernised, fit for purpose and focused on ensuring that Australians have access to world-class medicines when they need them.

Ms de Somer said the NMP affects the health and quality of life of all Australians.

“The draft NMP deserves proper review to ensure the Australian health system is supported by the best possible medicines policy.

“Refreshing the NMP is an incredible opportunity to prepare Australia’s health system to face future challenges, including possible future pandemics and the growing burden of complex and chronic disease.

“The Draft lacks a vision and does not adequately address equitable and timely access to new and innovative medicines, which were the key demands from the hundreds of respondents to the House of Representatives Inquiry into approval processes for new drugs and novel medical technologies in Australia.

“There must be greater emphasis and focus on equitable access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, remote and rural populations, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

“A national policy that responds to patient voices and meets patient needs – and acknowledges the expert advice and evidence of all stakeholders – can play a key role in delivering world’s best outcomes for access and utilisation of medicines, biotherapeutics, and vaccines to the Australian community.

“It is crucial to get the NMP right, as it will help to establish the vision for the upcoming independent review of Health Technology Assessment Policy and Methods, and the bold reforms needed to ensure patients can access the latest medical innovations.”

Medicines Australia is currently continuing its forensic examination of the detail of the draft NMP and will today convene a meeting of key medicines industry stakeholders to further discuss the Draft and recommendations to achieve the best possible NMP.

Medicines Australia will issue a more comprehensive response to the NMP Review next week.


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