Australian health budget 'tough, but fair'

The medicines industry in Australia needs to look to research and development if it wants to get onside with the Abbott Government.

Minister for Health, the Hon. Peter Dutton, told a gathering of representatives from advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies and peak bodies at the 2014 post-budget health briefing last week in Canberra that this health budget is laying foundations for sustainability, with an emphasis on being “tough but fair.”

Dutton reaffirmed what was revealed in the budget papers, there is a definite lean toward the biomedical and preventative health arm of the portfolio. Twenty billion has been earmarked for the Medical Research Future Fund, where the Government will work with the research sector to determine where these funds would best be directed. Notable mention was also given to the funding also allocated to Alzheimer’s research and a national bowel cancer screening program.

With a dollar-sensitive eye on the PBS, Dutton noted that its major cost driver is “the increasing expense of newly listed lifesaving medicines and technologies.” Indeed, it seems as though companies hoping to have new life-extending treatments subsidised will face a tough battle.

However, an opportunity exists for industry if it can approach the Government for research co-investment in line with the Abbott Government’s long term goals. While Dutton noted that they will always be more risk-averse than industry, they are open to the mutual building of solid foundations for the future of the medicines industry in Australia.