PharmAus20: Australia’s scientific and research leaders reinforce an urgent need for clinical trial harmonisation and empowerment of patients and the community

An extraordinary gathering of Australia’s scientific and research leaders at PharmAus20 today has reinforced the urgent need for clinical trial harmonisation across the country to maximise the significant trial capabilities and reinforce our prominence on the world stage.

“It was a great honour to have some of our leading scientists and clinicians join PharmAus20 today for a thought-provoking discussion on our scientific prowess. It was apparent how incredibly hard they are working on COVID-19 and we are grateful for their astounding contribution to the health crisis,” stated Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia.

“This session firmly reinforced the need for clinical trial harmonisation to be secured. While Medicines Australia has formally written to the National Cabinet and we have received a commitment from the Commonwealth Health Minister, we will work now together as a group to request prompt action,” she added.

“COVID-19 has shown us that practices and processes can be changed rapidly and dramatically for the better and harmonisation is not only important for the COVID-19 immediate need, it is also an essential step for the long-term – for patients and for the economy,” she stated.

Speaking during the PharmAus20 forum, Professor John Zalcberg, Australian Clinical Trials Alliance stated: “It is essential we continue to work with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to address governance in clinical trials. The business of conducting multi-centre trials is paralysing and this has to change.”

“We must also look at how we embed trials into clinical practice. This must form part of the care we provide, and the community must be informed of this. We need patients and the community asking – “is there a clinical trial for me and where do I access it?” If patients drive it, we will bring change,” he added.

Dr Rob Grenfell, Health & Biosecurity Director, CSIRO stated: “Harmonisation of trials across the States is the ultimate challenge. If we can achieve this, we would have one of the greatest medical assets on the planet.”

Dr Paul Griffin Conjoint Associate Professor, Nucleus Network added: “We have seen from COVID-19 that changes in how we operate are possible. With the current COVID-19 trials we have achieved speeds no-one would have considered possible previously and with all the checks and balances. We’ve never worked so hard to deliver research timelines and with regulatory processes also committing to real-time reviews. We have seen a phenomenal effort across all stakeholders.”

The session also reinforced the substantial world-renowned partnerships present in Australia, linking prestigious science and medical institutions to the innovative medicines industry.”

Associate Professor Dominic Wall, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Executive Director Business Ventures stated: “We have immense opportunities in Australia to conduct clinical research and ensure treatments are available to cancer patients, especially as access to such treatments overseas is currently limited due to travel restrictions.”

“We must not find ourselves at the end of the COVID-19 emergency without this infrastructure – clinical research is absolutely critical for the lives of people with cancer now and into the future,” he added.

“We are incredibly strong at the discovery level,” added Dr Rob Grenfell, CSIRO. “Where we really need to focus now is how we can build an accelerated path to secure end to end development – bringing a discovery to market at a local level. This will significantly strengthen our contribution and gain greater global recognition and focus.”

“Beyond the research, the partnerships between biotechs and the innovative pharmaceutical industry bring substantial rewards to our economy,” concluded Lorraine Chiroiu, CEO of AusBiotech and Chair of the Session.

“The contribution of the scientific research community and industry ecosystem to the local economy must not be underestimated. We really need to focus now on where we make our investments to support both the economy and society.”

Ends

For further information please contact Natalie Wimmer at Medicines Australia on 0450 728 660.