Friday March 1, 2022
In one of his last speeches in Parliament as the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, has stressed the importance a significant buffer of medicines will be to the security of supply for Australian patients.
In a speech at the annual Generic Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) Budget Week industry luncheon, the retiring Minister praised the affordable medicines industry for its five-year strategic agreement with Government, that starts in July 2022.
“Access to medicines underpin this strategic agreement and it will ensure the critical supply preservation for four to six months,” Minister Hunt said today.
The role of the affordable medicines industry, in mitigating against global supply chain disruption, was also underscored by the Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler MP.
“The security of supply, which came at a time when there was heightened concern, was a great achievement,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler also re-confirmed his commitment that if Labor won the pending federal election, it would honour the strategic agreements with the GBMA and Medicines Australia respectfully.
“You will have a new Health Minister, regardless of who is the next Government,” Mr Butler said. “Obviously I hope it will be me but either way, I have really valued the engagement with the GBMA.”
The Independent Chair of the GBMA, Professor Jane Halton AO PSM, reminded her audience of MPs, Senators, GBMA members, industry leaders and consumer advocacy groups, that whilst the issue of supply has been resolved, there was more work to be done.
“We have heard a lot this Budget week about the cost of living,” Professor Halton said. “This also means creating the headroom (on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) to pay for the innovative but expensive medicines we want.”
Professor Halton said this was the challenge for the next Minister for Health.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to improve the penetration of biosimilar medicines and create that vital headroom so never again, will we have an argument about whether we can afford to list that innovative but expensive medicine.”
Professor Halton again thanked Minister Hunt for his ‘incredible work’ during the pandemic and what has been an experience, the former Secretary of Health and Finance said she would not wish on anyone.
“We know it’s been an extraordinarily difficult two years and we are so very proud to have played our part in ensuring Australians could still access their medicines,” Professor Halton said. “At risk, were medicines we would describe as ‘low cost’ but they were highly valued by each Australian who relied on them.
These low-cost medicines allowed Australians to continue to work, to continue to care for their family and to continue to contribute to their community.”
The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) is the peak representative body of generic and biosimilar medicine suppliers in Australia. Its members ensure that all Australians are offered high quality generic and biosimilar medicines, whilst providing affordable community health outcomes that benefit all Australians.