New medicines boosting health outcomes: report

The publication of Australia’s Health 2010 highlights the important contribution of prescription medicines in improving health outcomes for Australian patients, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said today.

The report, published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, outlines the impact of medicines and vaccines on a range of disease areas including HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious diseases.

“This report demonstrates the importance of innovative new medicines in helping significantly to improve health outcomes across a number of diseases,” Dr Shaw said.

“We also see evidence that new medicines are helping keep patients out of hospital, which is particularly important where hospital costs are under increasing pressure.”

The report specified several key areas where medicines and vaccines are contributing significantly to improved health outcomes:

  • A wide variety of effective antiviral medication has allowed people with HIV to lead relatively normal lives. It has become a disease that many more people now live with rather than die from, as they previously did.
  • The rate of hospitalisations with cardiovascular disease as the principal diagnosis has been slowly declining over the past decade: the number of prescriptions for lipid reducing agents increased by 27.2% between 2004-05 and 2007-08 and prescriptions for antithrombotic medicines used to prevent or dissolve blood clots increased by 20.9%.
  • For cancers as a whole, five-year survival rates have improved from 41% for males diagnosed in 1982-86 to 58% for those diagnosed in 1998-2004: improvements in cancer treatments have contributed to these gains.
  • A program to increase vaccination coverage in adolescents may explain a drop in the rate of new hepatitis B infection in recent years that occurred among those aged 15-29 years.
  • Australia was one of the first countries to begin its national vaccination program against pandemic swine flu.
  • Immunisation has had a dramatic influence on the rates of illness and death from a wide variety of infections.
  • Introduction of antibiotics and immunisation programs have meant that the effects of infectious diseases on Australia’s health is low.

“This report powerfully demonstrates the value of the Government’s investment in innovative new medicines,” Dr Shaw said.


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