Productivity Commission research provides irrefutable evidence that faster access to new medicines is needed

24 April 2024: New research released today by the Productivity Commission provides irrefutable evidence to Government that faster access to new medicines will have a measurable and overall positive impact on social and economic outcomes for Australia.

The research paper, ‘Advances in measuring healthcare productivity’, found multi-factor productivity grew by about 3% per year between 2011-12 and 2017-18 for cancers, cardiovascular diseases, blood and metabolic disorders, endocrine disorders and kidney and urinary diseases, which together account for around one-third of healthcare expenditure.
It also found more timely approval processes for pharmaceuticals and other medical technologies is needed for medicines to reach people at the right time and to maximise productivity benefits.

Medicines Australia CEO Liz de Somer said the findings further demonstrate the need for bold reform of Australia’s existing health technology assessment system.

“The Productivity Commission research recognises that advances in cancer treatments have been one of the major drivers of productivity growth, and this is consistent with productivity studies from overseas,” Ms de Somer said.
“This is irrefutable evidence that delays in getting new medicines onto the PBS are harming Australians.

“The full value of the benefits that new medicines and vaccines contribute to our society need to be given sufficient consideration and weighting in the decision-making process when a medicine is being assessed for a PBS listing.
“Productivity is linked to quality of life and a person’s ability to function and participate as a member of society. When someone cannot access the medicine they need, when they need it, in an appropriate delivery method that suits their needs, their productivity is impacted, with ripple effects through their community.”

“Medicines Australia and its members have been calling for a provisional fund to give patients with limited options faster access to new medicines. Furthermore, the current discount rate should be reduced to 1.5% in line with other OECD countries so that Australians are not disadvantaged when it comes to accessing medicines with longer-term benefits, such as cell and gene therapies and vaccines.”

The research paper noted that productivity growth was particularly strong for the treatment of cancers, which highlights the importance of quickly integrating new treatments as they emerge.

“The Minister for Health and Aged Care has said he wants bold PBS reform – this is compelling evidence that our current system is not fit for purpose and needs change,” Ms de Somer said.

Media enquiries to Kate McKeown, Senior Manager Communications and Media – or 0408 775 288.