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Fresh Australian Industry Pact Will Insure Against Shortages

Fresh Australian Industry Pact Will Insure Against Shortages

Source : 'Generics Bulletin'

A new five-year strategic agreement running from mid-2022 to 2027 has been finalized between Australia’s government and the country’s Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association, offering “improved stability, predictability and viability” according to health minister Greg Hunt.

Negotiations began almost a year ago on a fresh agreement that the GBMA said would offer “long-term certainty for the sector” following a similar previous deal. ("GBMA Set For New Australian Pact" "Generics Bulletin" ) The association said it had “negotiated the new strategic agreement a year early, out of mutual concern for millions of vulnerable Australians, who are struggling to access their vital medicines,” with negotiations led on the GBMA side by Arrotex CEO and chair Dennis Bastas.

Heralding “a new era in securing medicine supply for Australian patients,” the GBMA said its “landmark strategic agreement” would secure affordable medicines supplies and mitigate against shortages, in part through expanding safety stocks of certain treatments kept within Australia.

The GBMA acknowledged that the deal came against the backdrop of renewed concerns linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen unprecedented collaboration between the off-patent sector and the branded medicines industry. ("Australia Allows Industry Collaboration To Continue" "Generics Bulletin" )

GBMA independent chair Jane Halton noted that Australia was “in the midst of another frightening global, and national, surge of COVID-19” which had “pulled the curtain back on how vulnerable Australia was to international disruption of the supply of vital medicines.” 

“On behalf of all Australians, the affordable medicines industry is stepping up and committing to hold additional stock of four to six months in-country, to better protect patients against supply chain volatility,” Halton stated, with this commitment forming “the centerpiece of the new GBMA strategic agreement.”

Alongside a strategic agreement struck by the government with brand association Medicines Australia, Hunt said the pacts would help “reduce the cost of prescription medicines for individuals and taxpayers and bolster the supply of medicines available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” while also ensuring that “pharmacy shelves across Australia are continuously stocked with PBS medicines and that Australians will have early access to new life-changing medicines regardless of where they live.”

“I want to thank and acknowledge the GBMA for its ongoing partnership with government, through these negotiations, and through successive strategic agreements,” Hunt said, “which continue to provide significant benefits for Australian patients.”

“With this new agreement providing the right policy levers, we have committed ourselves to substantially increase our own stockpiles of vital medicines stored in country.”

Noting that the off-patent industry “contributes more than two-thirds of all the medicines dispensed on the PBS each year,” the GBMA said that “with patients as our absolute and shared priority, we believe the solution to surety of supply must be industry-led and government-enabled.”

“With this new agreement providing the right policy levers, we have committed ourselves to substantially increase our own stockpiles of vital medicines stored in country. We have managed to do this, together with the Australian government, without burdening taxpayers.”

GBMA chief executive Marnie Peterson said the new strategic agreement was “firmly aimed at protecting all Australians against medicine shortages, as well as delivering further savings to the PBS, to the benefit of the broader economy.” 

“The association has also reconfirmed its commitment to working with government on the ‘repurposing of medicines’ initiative,” Peterson added, “in an effort to further expand patient access and advance the availability of treatments in Australia.” 

“At the heart of all our considerations are Australian patients and we are proud to partner with the Australian government to maintain a world class health system.”

The off-patent sector agreement comes in tandem with a fresh five-year strategic agreement between the government and brand industry body Medicines Australia, which the originator association said “heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world.”

In particular, Medicines Australia noted, “in a major step forward, the agreement ensures patients will become fundamental contributors to the first independent review of Australia’s health technology assessment system in nearly 30 years,” with a new process set to incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee assessment of medicines to be funded on the PBS.

“The enhanced consumer engagement is expected to improve efficiencies in PBAC decisions and create faster access to lifesaving medicines and treatments,” Medicines Australia said.

By David Wallace