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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

A strategic alignment for HTA Review: Professor Skerritt appointed to Medicines Australia Board

Health Industry Hub | December 5, 2023 |

Pharma News: Professor John Skerritt has been appointed as an Independent Selected Director on the Medicines Australia Board effective 4 December 2023. This strategic move is timely as the medicines industry navigates the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the system for new and disruptive technologies and ensure meets the needs of Australians into the future.

Dr Anna Lavelle AM, Chair of the Medicines Australia Board, expressed her enthusiasm about Professor Skerritt’s appointment, highlighting its significance.

“I am delighted to announce Professor John Skerritt will be joining the Medicines Australia Board to provide strategic leadership, informed by decades of government experience, at a pivotal time for the pharmaceutical industry,” she said.

She emphasised Professor Skerritt’s unparalleled expertise, citing his extensive tenure as the former Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care, along with his leadership role as the former Head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

“John’s knowledge of the Australian therapeutics regulatory environment is unmatched,” Dr Lavelle added.

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During his tenure Professor Skerritt spearheaded several crucial initiatives. These included implementing the Medicines and Medical Devices Review, digital transformation, regulation of medicinal cannabis, rapid registration of COVID vaccines and treatments and playing a leading role in international harmonisation of regulation.

His track record also involved the controversial decision of down-scheduling psychedelics MDMA and psilocybin for the treatment of depression, a move that defied earlier expectations.

Dr Lavelle highlighted the critical nature of Professor Skerritt’s expertise in propelling Australia forward in innovative therapies.

“This expertise is critical as Australia seeks to harness the step change in technology and ensure that Australian patients have access to new innovative therapies as they become available. John’s deep understanding of government, and policy development and implementation, will be invaluable as Medicines Australia builds on the work undertaken to date with the Government on the reforms needed to speed up patient access to new medicines,” she remarked.

Expressing his excitement about the new role, Professor Skerritt conveyed, “It is a tremendous honor to be joining the Board of Medicines Australia as an Independent Selected Director. The ability of innovative medicines to positively impact the lives of so many Australians drove me to choose this area as my university major some 45 years ago.”

Reflecting on his past contributions to patient access to innovative medicines, he added, “Now, in the same way it has been rewarding for me to support patient access to innovative medicines through leadership of Australia’s regulator over the last decade, I now look forward to working with Australia’s top leaders in the sector through this new Board role.”

The extended deadline for the HTA Review until 15 April 2024 aims to “ensure that the Reference Committee has sufficient time to consider the extensive and valuable input and material received for the HTA Review so far, as well as conduct further public consultation”. The second public consultation is due to commence this month and run through to mid February 2024.

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