New research shows Australia lags far behind other countries in access to new medicines

A new report released today shows Australians are missing out on too many new medicines,with Australia ranked 18th out of 20 comparable OECD countries.

The COMPARE report – Comparison of Access and Reimbursement Environments –benchmarks Australia’s access to new medicines and will be launched at the National Press Club today by Medicines Australia Chairman, Dr Martin Cross.

“It’s disappointing to see that Australia, which is known for a universal health care system, has fallen behind most comparable OECD countries when it comes to access to new medicines,” Dr Cross said.

“What does this mean for our country? It means Australians are missing out on too many new and innovative medicines, and wait far too long for those we eventually get access to through the PBS. These are medicines which improve health outcomes, quality of life, and the population’s ability to participate as productive members of the workforce.”

The independent analysis of 247 new and innovative pharmaceutical medicines first registered between 2009 and 2014 shows that out of 20 comparable OECD countries, Australia ranks 3rd last, only above New Zealand and Portugal.

“Australians have access to less than 40 per cent of new medicines considered safe and effective since 2009. Patients in many other OECD countries have 75 per cent or more of the new medicines reimbursed and readily available through Government funding,” Dr Cross said.

“This is just not good enough and I’m sure I share the same views as patients when I say access to medicines needs to be modernised. It’s becoming too apparent to patients, clinicians and the industry that Australia’s system for selecting and making new medicines available is struggling.

“The report shows that Australian patients have to wait, on average, more than a year between the medicines being deemed safe and effective and then being made available on the PBS.

“This is compared to many other countries which provide access to their population immediately, or within 3-6 months of the medicine being authorised for sale.

“It’s time to take action and start making the right changes to modernise the way we access medicines. Medicines Australia and the Government have begun the process to ensure the system is fit for purpose now and into the future, however this report shows that there is much more to be done.

“To achieve a more positive policy environment that improves patient access to life-changing medicines, we need the emphasis to shift from the cost of medicines to the value they provide in keeping the Australian population healthy, participating and productive.”

The Report is available here (please follow link)


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