​Health Minister Greg Hunt opened Session 4 of today’s Medicine Australia’s PharmAus20 conference. He thanked industry for ensuring access to medicines and continuity of operations during COVID and for being involved in the development of potential vaccines. He stated that COVID has delivered some fundamental reforms (eg tele-health and e-prescriptions) and concluded that Australia is an attractive place for clinical research.

The discussion then continued with the panelists. Key points:

The fiscal environment is currently less constrained at the moment ie government is spending more; and the IMF, OECD and the World Bank are encouraging governments around the world to follow Australia’s example of spending and control measures and for supporting households and businesses to deal with the COVID crisis.

It is time to revisit the PBAC mechanism. The mechanism should not be a gatekeeper of public funds, but a rigorous way in which to identify and invest in best value health returns for Australians.

If opportunity cost and budget capping must be introduced, we need a rational and transparent basis to do it, with adequate community input.

The Australian COVID Vaccine Trials Alliance (VAX4COVID – www.vaxforcovid.org) is encouraging companies around the world to bring their early phase to Australia

In the recovery phase of the economy funding will be constrained and there will be an increased focus on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) involving Economic modelling. It is important for HTA to keep up with advances in healthcare and consumers need to be able to easily access the process to provide input.

Economic confidence will require good healthcare, including comprehensive contact tracing and containment; extensive mental health programs; the continuation of diagnostic screening; and the expansion of tele-health services.

Taking a medium and long term focus there needs to be increased efforts to build Australia’s capabilities for the manufacturing of medicines and medical products.

Thanks to:

Elizabeth de Somer

Greg Hunt

Liz Chatwin

Saul Eslake

Paul Cross

Terry Nolan

Caroline Edwards