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Australia lagging on
Australia has fallen behind other countries in access to new medicines
according to research released by Medicines Australia (MA) last month.
The COMPARE report -- Comparison of
Access and Reimbursement Environments
--shows Australians are missing out on
too many new medicines, with Australia
ranked 18th out of 20 comparable OECD
The Report benchmarks Australia's
access to new medicines and was
launched at the National Press Club by
MA 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 do 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 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 third 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.
'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. MA 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,' Mr Cross said.
Medicinal cannabis should be made
available to Australians with specific
symptoms, according to Palliative Care
Australia (PCA) CEO Liz Callaghan.
'In the right circumstances, with the
right evidence to support it we believe
medicinal cannabis could help people
in pain where other medicines have not
been successful,' she said.
PCA's submission on the Regulator of
Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2014 supports the
overall intent of the Bill. It is endorsed
by leading Australian palliative care
professors and state and territory
palliative care organisations.
Ms Callaghan said: It's important we have
this debate in Australia. The issue has been
raised and dismissed many times. We
support an open discussion on this issue.'
She said establishing an evidence base
for the use of an illegal drug in a medical
situation is vital to employing it to help
'There are patients and doctors who
support the use of medicinal cannabis, but
Australians need good evidence to make
this decision, not just anecdotal stories. This
is the case with general medications and it
should be the same for medicinal cannabis.
The research and development component
of the Bill is vital. If doctors and patients are
using medicinal cannabis it should be with
confidence and with an understanding of
the impacts and benefits of its long-term
use, including any adverse effects.'
Ms Callaghan said palliative care supports
safe, compassionate and appropriate care
as people approach the end of life, and
this should be the principle applied when
considering any medications.
'We cannot underestimate the power
of pain to limit a person's enjoyment of
their life. It can be debilitating, impacting
psychological, social, emotional and
spiritual well-being. PCA supports the use
of medicinal cannabis for patients for whom
other therapies have not been effective or
where the treating medical professional
believes it is the most suitable evidence-
based therapy.' Ms Callaghan said.
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