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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Government’s budget decision on funding for HTA Review reforms looms

Health Industry Hub | January 31, 2024 |

Pharma News: Medicines Australia is urging the Government to allocate sufficient funding for imminent reforms arising from the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review in the upcoming 2024 Budget. Additionally, the pharmaceutical industry peak body is calling for the inclusion of disaggregated Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) spending data in the budget papers.

Medicines Australia CEO, Liz de Somer, emphasised the critical need for swift action, stating, “Our ask of Treasury this year is very clear – commit to funding the reforms that will come out of the HTA Review to give Australians faster access to new medicines and improve transparency of PBS spending by providing disaggregate data in budget papers.”

Pfizer, in its pre-budget submission, highlighted the urgency for reform, stating, “Eliminating redundancies and improving efficiency in the HTA processes is clearly needed; however, if this occurs without fundamentally reforming evaluation and decision criteria used to determine the way Australians get access to innovative medicines and vaccines, we will have missed an opportunity.”

The pharmaceutical multinational underscored the impact of multiple submissions on patient access, revealing that, on average, companies make 1.7 submissions per new therapy, with only 17% of therapies reimbursed within six months of registration. Furthermore, less than half (44%) of new medicines registered in Australia between 2016-2021 were reimbursed, compared to 96% in Japan, 84% in Germany, 80% in the UK, and 62% in France.

Pfizer emphasised the need for adaptability to usher in a new era of therapies and technologies, asserting, “We must ensure these medicines are available to the patients who need them, in a timely manner. Patients, their families and carers are increasingly informed and empowered to take control of their own health; their demand for access to the latest interventions will only increase in coming years.”

The results of the HTA Review also hold significant relevance for medical practitioners.

“The outcomes of the HTA Review – the listings of medicines on the PBS and addition of MBS items that accompany the use of therapeutics and devices – are central to the tasks of medical practitioners. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) supports safe and affordable access to essential treatments. As such, the outcomes of this review are important for the AMA,” the peak body stated.

Medicines Australia, in collaboration with its members, has outlined a three-year implementation roadmap for HTA Reform. Ms de Somer explained, “Our Roadmap offers a realistic timeframe to achieve meaningful change for patients as early as year 1, while the reforms that will require investment by Government can be rolled out in years 2 and 3.

“This aligns with Government’s promise of bold reform and offers pathways to enable Australians to access innovative medicines within 60 days of TGA registration.”

Ms de Somer pointed to billions in budget savings through successive Strategic agreements. She said “PBS expenditure has grown by $3 billion over 10 years in nominal terms and has shrunk as a proportion of healthcare expenditure from 20% to 17%. Investing in the PBS reduces costs in other areas of the health system and contributes to economic productivity.”

Calling for a fundamental reform after 30 years without a comprehensive review, Medicines Australia is urging the Government to reshape the PBS for optimal health, social, and economic outcomes for all Australians.

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