A NEW parliamentary report, The New Frontier: Delivering better health for all Australians is recommending significant reforms to the health care system to ensure Australians have better and faster access to the wave of new medicines and technologies.
The chair of the committee, Trent Zimmerman MP said, "We are witnessing what will be a revolution in the treatment of many conditions, as our understanding of genomics and the development of precision medicine develops. In so many other areas we are also seeing progress in drugs and technology, which has been reflected in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
"These innovations reflect the new frontier of medicine, which is giving hope to many for better treatments and technologies for conditions ranging from cancers to rare diseases. At its forefront, is the development of personalised or precision medicine, which is being delivered as our understanding of fields – like genomics – grows."
Australia has one of the world’s best systems for assessing new treatments and ensuring they are delivered in an affordable way to patients. However, the system can be improved and we need to ensure it is ready to meet the challenges of many new innovations that will not neatly fit current health technology assessment processes.
"Throughout its 15-month inquiry, the committee received over 200 submissions and held 13 days of public hearings in several capital cities. The committee was moved by the testimony of patients and their families and inspired by the work of our researchers and medical scientists. The committee was impressed by the professionalism of those working in the medicines and technology sectors and appreciative of the obvious dedication, co-operation and knowledge of those within the health department who assisted our deliberations in public and private hearings and through their submissions.
"I believe that all the committee’s recommendations will make a real difference to the lives of Australian patients as well as industry and the R&D sector, including the clinical trials sector," Mr Zimmerman said.
Deputy chair of the committee, Dr Mike Freelander MP, made the following comments in relation to the Inquiry:
"We are at an inflection point in healthcare in Australia at the present time, because of the rapidly increasing treatments becoming available for conditions previously considered untreatable.
"This is particularly so in my own field of paediatrics.
"How Australians get access to these treatments in an equitable manner has been the main focus of our Inquiry.
"I have learnt a lot during the course of the Inquiry, and have been humbled by the experience.
"I am particularly grateful to the chair, Trent Zimmerman, and to the incredibly hardworking secretariat, without whose efforts the Inquiry would not have been possible.
"I am very grateful for the manner in which our Inquiry has been approached by staff at the Health Department, particularly Prof John Skerritt and his staff at the TGA, the PBAC and MSAC, who at all times gave their support and never refused to give us time for meetings.
"I reiterate my support and thanks for all those who presented to us.
"I’ve enjoyed the Inquiry and the bigger picture is to now get whoever is in government to act on our recommendations."
The bipartisan report makes 31 recommendations to reform Australia’s system for the regulation and reimbursement with the hope that patients will receive faster access to the latest medicines and technologies.
The chair planned to table this report in the House of Representatives between 10am and 11am on Thursday November 25, 2021.
The full text of the report will be available on the committee’s website after tabling.
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