Shadow health minister Catherine King has told CanForum 2018 "sustainable" funding for new medicines will be a priority if Labor wins the next election.
During a question and answer session as part of an address to yesterday's conference, Ms King said the decision of governments not to retain a significant portion of the over $20 billion in savings from price disclosure had been a lost opportunity.
Ms King did not commit to redirect any of this money into new listings obviously because it is already committed to other parts of the Budget. The inference was that future funding would need to be found.
According to Ms King, the challenge of an incoming Labor government will be to "put funding for new medicines on a more sustainable footing."
Ms King's statement followed earlier comments by health minister Greg Hunt. Mr Hunt highlighted the $1 billion set aside for new medicines in the 2018-19 Budget.
Yet spending on the PBS will not grow between 2010 and 2020 - with successive governments effectively paying for new medicines from within the current funding envelope.
She said managed entry, where the "risk is shared to ensure access", also remains a positive opportunity to ensure timely patient access to new medicines.
The managed entry process has been in place for a number of years but few companies have agreed to list their medicines under the framework.
Ms King also said a future Labor government would back reforms designed to accelerate access to pan-tumour medicines.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recently met to consider stakeholder submissions on a potential process to accelerate reimbursed access to cancer-treating immunotherapies.
"Assessing medicines to treat multiple tumours – rather than requiring separate full applications and data – has the potential to ensure patients access medicines in a much more timely way.
"We strongly support this reform.
"We’d hoped to see more progress in the last year – but we do welcome that the PBAC met on this last month – and we eagerly await the outcomes of the meeting.
"We want to see this happen. And I can assure you it’s something we will continue to pursue if we win Government at the forthcoming election."
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