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REPORT: Australia is one of the slowest countries in the developed world to approve life-saving medicines

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Australia has been ranked as one of the slowest countries in the developed world in approving new medicines, with patients having to wait, on average, more than a year between the medicines being deemed safe and effective and then being made available on the PBS.

Cancer patients are waiting an average 573 days for potentially life-saving drugs.

Asthma patients are waiting 336 days.

Most other comparable countries provide their patients with the approved medication immediately, or within 3-6 months.

A new report released today by Medicines Australia reveals that Australia ranks just 18th out of 20 comparable OECD countries with access to new medicines.

Australians only have access to 39% of new medicines considered safe and effective since 2009.

“Patients in many other OECD countries have 75 per cent or more of the new medicines reimbursed and readily available through Government funding,” said Medicines Australia Chairman, Dr Martin Cross.

In fact, more than half of the 247 medicines analysed in the report are still not registered in Australia.

Of the medicines which were eventually reimbursed, only 18 took less than 6 months.

In the same time that Japan, Germany, Austria and the UK reimbursed at least 100 medicines, Australia only did 18.

“It’s disappointing to see that Australia, which is known for a universal health care system, has fallen behind most comparable OECD countries when it comes to access to new medicines.

“These are medicines which improve health outcomes, quality of life, and the population’s ability to participate as productive members of the workforce,” said Cross.

See the full report here.

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