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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Economic value of clinical trials rises, yet certain challenges persist

Health Industry Hub | May 24, 2024 |

Pharma News: The clinical trials sector contributed $1.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2022, reflecting a 4.1% increase since 2019 despite pandemic-related challenges. However, certain key metrics have declined.

MTPConnect CEO, Stuart Dignam, highlighted the significance of this achievement as the nation celebrates World Clinical Trials Day this week.

“Clinical trials are a critical step in the R&D pipeline for new treatments. Besides ensuring Australian patients receive the best, safest, and most effective treatments, these new figures show clinical trials are more valuable for the economy than ever before,” Dignam said. “It underscores our hard-earned global reputation as a ‘go-to’ destination to conduct clinical trials.”

While the economic value has risen, other key metrics have shown signs of stagnation. In 2022, the clinical trials sector employed 7,700 Australians, slightly fewer than the 8,000 employed in 2019. Approximately 90,000 Australians participated in trials, down from 95,000 in 2019, and there were 1,850 trials started, slightly lower than the 1,880 trials initiated in 2019.

“There’s no doubt COVID-19 restrictions blunted growth, with significant falls in key metrics seen in 2020. And while there was a robust rebound in 2021, demonstrating the life science sector’s resilience, we’ve not been able to maintain some of those post-COVID gains into 2022,” Dignam explained.

The number of industry-sponsored clinical trials declined by 6% in 2022, while non-industry trials remained relatively stable since 2019, according to the MTPConnect report.

“The figures show that we can’t take success for granted and need to keep innovating to stay competitive with other international markets. Areas we’ve identified for ongoing attention include improving efficiency in trial start-up, enhancing data transparency, increasing patient awareness to support recruitment, and expanding the workforce to support clinical trials growth,” Dignam added.

Earlier this month, stakeholders, including Medicines Australia, AusBiotech, Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA), Research Australia, MTPConnect, and the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC), welcomed the funding announcement of $1.89 billion from Health Minister Mark Butler MP. This funding is aimed at supporting a National Strategy for medical research and establishing the National One Stop Shop for clinical trials.

The funding seeks to reduce bureaucratic red tape and eliminate disparities in access to clinical trials across the nation. The pharma, medtech, and biotech sectors have been advocating for a single, harmonised, end-to-end process for clinical trials across various jurisdictions since the Federal Government established a Clinical Trials Action Group in 2009.

The full report developed by MTPConnect, Australia’s Clinical Trials Sector 2024, will be released next week.

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