9 December 2020
Global health policy powerhouse, Jane Halton AO PSM, joins GBMA as its inaugural Independent Chair
Canberra:As Australia emerges from the current global health and economic crisis, one of the world’s most respected and experienced health policy leaders, Ms Jane Halton AO PSM, is joining Australia’s peak body for generic and biosimilar medicines, as its inaugural Independent Chair.
As the Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Co-Chair of COVAX, Ms Halton has been laser focussed on ensuring equitable global access to a COVID-19 vaccine. However, now the former Secretary of the departments of Health and Finance, is also turning her attention to ensuring all Australian patients can continue to receive affordable and safe medicines.
“To return to my domestic health policy roots, and lead the GBMA at such a significantly important time for Australian patients and our vital healthcare community, is a challenge I am delighted to embrace,” Ms Halton said today. “As we look to the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine for our citizens, we also need to be vigilant that all Australians continue to receive the medicines they need, when they need them.”
With Australia’s health budget under extraordinary strain, Ms Halton – who has, herself, overseen 13 health budgets – said she was keen to forge a national understanding of the role generic and biosimilar medicines play as the ballast for a sustainable Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
A reliable supply of low cost, high volume generic and biosimilar medicines are needed in Australia to ensure there remains fiscal headroom on the PBS to subsidise expensive innovative medicines and offset the cost of life-saving vaccines.
CEO of the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA), Ms Marnie Peterson, said the GBMA board and its members, were thrilled Ms Halton will lead the peak body through an unpredictable and rapidly shifting health, policy and economic landscape.
“Jane is respected as a health and economic policy powerhouse, without peer, in Australia and globally,” Ms Peterson said today. “To end such a traumatic year with Jane as our first Independent Chair is absolutely wonderful news and we know governments, patients, clinicians, hospitals and pharmacists alike will also applaud Jane’s return to the Australian medicine policy front line.”
On behalf of the Board, Ms Peterson paid tribute to the outgoing Chair, Mr Sylvain Vigneault. Ms Peterson described Mr Vigneault’s insights, experience and support, over more than two years, as highly valued by the membership, throughout a significant time for the association and particularly during this pandemic
“All of our members have worked around the clock to protect Australia’s patients against medicine supply chain disruptions,” Ms Peterson said. “Jane joins the GBMA board at a pivotal time as we navigate through a new five year strategic agreement negotiation with the Government and help shape new national medicine policy.”
“Australia has a world class health system and our Government is an international exemplar of how to manage and mitigate the worst of this pandemic,” Ms Halton said.
“I look forward to working with my GBMA colleagues to strengthen our collaborative partnership – one that continues to prioritise all Australian patients and their families.”
She is a member of Australian COVID-19 Coordination Commission advisory committee, boards of ANZ, Crown, Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.
In a 33 year career at the top of the public service, Ms Halton served as a Secretary of the Departments of Health and Finance at the federal level and was Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Ms Halton chaired the World Heath Organisation (WHO) board, was President of the World Health Assembly and was Chair of the OECD health committee.
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