Under Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the government’s plan for strengthening Australia’s health system aims to provide “researchers and industry certainty and direction.”
“The plan will create jobs, support opportunities for co-investing and reaffirm Australia’s reputation as a global research powerhouse,” per the plan outline.
The initiative – which will establish the Rural and Regional Clinical Trials Infrastructure Program – also will involve direct industry investment in jobs and clinical trials supply chain services, according to plan.
The program’s funding is part of the government’s $20bn Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and builds on its $550m Stronger Rural Health Strategy, which aims to deliver 3,000 additional doctors and more than 3,000 nurses in rural general practice over the next decade.
The MRFF also will see the development of a new drug discovery center and prioritizes genomics, with $614m dedicated to clinical trials for rare cancers, rare diseases, and unmet needs.
Funds for the clinical trials infrastructure program will be delivered over five years beginning in 2020-21, including $7m to support “activities aimed at achieving national consistency of clinical trial systems.”
Lucas Litewka, director of the clinical trials center at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Australian Advisory Board on Technology and Health care Competitiveness committee member, said the financial commitment will create new capacity and capabilities in the Australian clinical trial landscape.
“I think put simply we are experiencing unprecedented support from [the] government for our clinical trials industry,” he told us. “The Australian Government has recognized the importance of a vibrant clinical trial ecosystem in underpinning a world-class health care system.”
Litewka said increasing government investment in cancer research, genomics, and research infrastructure, as well as favorable research and development tax incentives and efficient regulatory pathways, have created “positive conditions for conducting clinical trials in Australia.”
Dr. John Moller, CEO of the Australia-headquartered contract research organization (CRO) Novotech, told us the company looks forward to additional details about how the funding will be deployed.
“[W]e envision the funding could provide an improvement in rural clinical trial infrastructure, which will, in turn, assist in attracting clinicians with an interest in clinical trials to rural areas, while improving access to innovative therapies for rural patients,” Moller said.
The initiative also further solidifies the message that Australia is the place for global biopharma companies to conduct research, Moller said. “Australia offers one of the most supportive environments for clinical trials which attracts many small and medium-sized biotech companies, especially from the US, to run their early phase trials here.”