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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Landmark Bill to protect against medicine shortages and supply issues

Health Industry Hub | November 23, 2021 |
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Pharma News: The Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) recently announced the signing of a new 5-year Strategic Agreement with the Australian Government, that enables the affordable medicines industry to commit to significantly increasing the stock holdings of medicines, in country, to four to six months.

Legislation to better protect Australians against medicine shortages is due to be debated this week. If passed, it will mark a ‘watershed moment in the security of medicine supply for Australian patients’ said the peak body for the affordable medicines industry, the Generic and Biosimilars Medicines Association (GBMA)

Guy Strong, Country Head of Sandoz Australia and New Zealand and GBMA Executive Board member, talked with Health Industry Hub recently about the landmark Agreement and how it aims to minimise disruption of patient care and mitigate the risk of medicine shortages.

The Independent Chair of the GBMA, Jane Halton AO PSM, said this world-leading policy approach signalled a new era in medicine security and supply.

Ms Halton called for cross-party support for the National Health Amendment (Enhancing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2021.

“The policy framework that supports a sustainable Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) can become very complex, very quickly,” Ms Halton said, a former Secretary of the Departments of Health and Finance. “But at
the heart of this legislation are Australian patients and their ability to access the safe and affordable medicines they need, when they need them, regardless of where they live.”

As part of its new five-year Strategic Agreement, affordable medicines industry offered to ‘step up’ and onshore a substantial stockpile of medicines.

The Chief Executive Officer of the GBMA, Marnie Peterson, said there is currently 250 medicines deemed ‘at risk’ of supply chain disruption and volatility. These ‘at risk’ medicines treat everything from infections, depression and anxiety to high cholesterol, hypertension and reflux. If not treated properly, these conditions can become very serious, very quickly.
The generic and biosimilar industry contributes more than two thirds of all the subsidised medicines dispensed across Australia each year.

As an island nation, a small market destination and a net importer of our medicines, Australia is particularly vulnerable to global supply shocks.

“Our members are being incredibly proactive in offering to do more to secure the supply of vital medicines,” Ms Peterson said. “Our new agreement with the Commonwealth will not only better protect patients but it delivers significant savings and stability to the PBS.

“We have worked very closely with the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and his department and we look forward to Parliament passing these laws that will be a game changer for all Australian patients and their families,” she added.

The new Strategic Agreement is due to start mid-2022.


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