Leaps in medicine require huge overhaul: report
Australians risk missing out on medical innovations and cutting-edge treatments if the country’s health system, which was designed before many new therapies were created, isn’t updated.
A bipartisan report from the House of Representatives’ health committee found there had been exponential growth in new medicines and treatments in recent years, including genetic medicines for cancers and new drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.
Committee chair Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said the innovations had provided hope to many but the health system needed sweeping reforms if it were to keep up with the changes.
“The risk if we don’t [adopt these recommendations] is Australians miss out on some of the new innovations that are happening in medicine, and it means that either Australians miss out entirely or they have to go overseas to get treatment. And that’s not a cheap task,” he said. “Most of our recommendations, we believe, the government can get on with straight away.”
The report on approval processes for new drugs and novel medical technologies in Australia makes 31 recommendations, including streamlining the clinical trial system and creating a new process for accessing personalised, or precision, medicine and genomics.
It also recommends establishing a Centre for Precision Medicine and Rare Diseases within the Department of Health, which both Mr Zimmerman and the committee deputy chair, Labor MP Dr Mike Freelander, believe will help the government look to new therapies.
“I think that is a critical part of the new world,” Dr Freelander said, adding this would be particularly important for providing speedy access to new treatments for serious diseases in children, including spinal muscular atrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and haemophilia.
“These [treatments] are all going to be coming pretty quickly and we want to make sure that Australian patients can get access to them in as timely a manner as possible,” he said.