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Hunt names NMP start date

Posted 11 November 2019

The Federal Government review of the National Medicines policy (NMP) will formally commence in March 2020, Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced at a Pfizer event.

In a release issued today (Monday) by Pfizer following a closed industry event it hosted last week, Minister Hunt confirmed a March 2020 start date for the much anticipated review of the 20 year old policy as promised by the Coalition in its election commitments.

While the start date puts the review just outside the promised nine months out from the May federal election, Hunt is kicking it off this year with a preliminary working group comprising "key stakeholders", including the pharma sector.

To be established within the next six weeks, the working group will be tasked with determining the composition of a review taskforce and establishing the review terms of reference, structure and process.

Hunt said while the four goals of the current policy - patient access, safety, quality and innovation - provided a good basis for the review, additional objectives including bringing new medicines to market as quickly as possible and making it easier to do business with the government would also be included.

Pfizer ANZ MD Melissa McGregor today renewed industry calls for "a fit for purpose NMP that meets the needs of patients over the next 20 years".

"That means it must be shaped by the views and experience of industry, clinicians, healthcare professionals and patients to ensure the best health outcomes for Australians," McGregor said. 

"The policy's design must also be based on the right decisions to take advantage of new and innovative medicines which have life-changing potential for patients."

In hosting the Pfizer Invites event last week, McGregor said Pfizer was looking to lead a conversation on "patient issues that must underpin the review".

"It is incumbent on the industry's leaders to ensure the policy can enable the full potential of our healthcare sector to improve patients' lives," McGregor said. 

Joining Minister Hunt on the Pfizer Invites panel was MA CEO Liz de Somer, CHF's Jan Donovan, MOGA's Dr Deme Karikios, and Cell and Molecular Therapies' Professor John Rasko.

The panellists proposed a range of concepts which the NMP should cover, including:

  • Leveraging clinicians' research at the outset of the clinical trial process to encourage better clinical practice that prioritises patient access to new treatments;
  • Incentives to ensure gene therapy is done in Australia, and increasing infrastructure investment in gene therapy;
  • How the government will reimburse life-changing 'living therapies' such as gene and cell-based therapeutics;
  • Development of cross-portfolio policies to help build a thriving industry that contributes to the economy by growing manufacturing and export markets; and
  • Increasing health education and literacy for disadvantaged groups who miss out on important health information.

The Pfizer Invites panel on the NMP was attended by 100 leaders from across the healthcare sector.

Megan Brodie

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