Public support for science and innovation: Productivity Commission report

In welcoming today's announcement of a Productivity Commission study into science and innovation, Medicines Australia can point to many examples where spending on innovation provides long-term rewards to the nation's economy and well-being.

The chief executive officer of Medicines Australia, Kieran Schneemann, said the study announced by the Treasurer and the Minister for Education, Science and Training today was timely and should support the case for more funding.

"We will be pointing out how more productive Australia has become and how healthier its citizens are through advances in medicines and the industry's strong presence in Australia," Mr Schneemann said.

"For example, for every $1 invested in medicines, there is a $4.50 saving in more expensive and invasive medical interventions and that's before you include savings in workforce productivity and reduced nursing and hospital care.

"There's more than $500 million spent every year by innovative medicine companies on research and development, much of it in clinical trials and support for areas like new biotech medicines and vaccines.

"The pharmaceutical industry, with almost $3 billion in exports, is now the second largest exporter of manufactured products after the automotive industry.

"The launch of new medicines over the past 30 years is also responsible for an increase of three weeks in longevity of life across the entire population. Five year survival rates for cancer have increased by 25 percent since the 1970s, with medicines taking credit for more than half of that improvement."

Research Australia's 2005 Opinion Poll also found Australians wanted more funding for health and medical research, with 82 percent of those surveyed saying it should be a high priority for Government over the next two or three years. Half of those said they would prefer Budget surpluses to go to this area rather than tax cuts.

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