Warning to government from biotech on PBS changesStark warnings that the biotech sector could be damaged and patient health harmed by proposed changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme warrant careful consideration, Medicines Australia said today.
The respected industry body AusBiotech said today that PBS cost-cutting could come at a severe price for patients, by reducing their access to the new innovative medicines coming online through incredible advances in biotechnology.
It is understood Federal Cabinet is soon to consider recommendations by an interdepartmental committee to reduce spending on the PBS by hundreds of millions of dollars. If these cuts occur, they would be announced in the May Budget.
Up to $300 million a year in financial support for biotechnology research and development from the pharmaceutical sector could be placed in jeopardy by any Government measures which did not take into account "the bigger picture" of encouraging the right climate for innovation and investment.
The chief executive officer of Medicines Australia, Kieran Schneemann, said AusBiotech had recognised the dangers of going down New Zealand's path, which had led to the wholesale withdrawal of pharmaceutical companies and far lessavailability of new medicines.
"In New Zealand, successive governments have thoughtlessly meddled with a system to deliver short-term budgetary gains but long-term negatives for patients," Mr Schneemann said.
"We do not want to go down a path where doctors can only prescribe one potentially inappropriate medicine for a patient. Neither do New Zealanders – after a decade of failure, its Government is now reviewing that approach.
"Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer, who developed a world-first vaccine for cervical cancer with the support of CSL, said just last week that there is a need for more funding for medical research in Australia, not less.
"We all want a sustainable PBS as the population ages. But patient health cannot be compromised, and Australia should not give up its place among the best in the world as a home for biotech and clinical trials."
Paul Chamberlin 041-923-3989 or 26-122-8520
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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