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[e-drug] Key Australian Medicines Policy Committees Overhauled

E-DRUG: Key Australian Medicines Policy Committees Overhauled


Posted 14 July 2008

After years in limbo, the bodies that underpin the National Medicines
Policy (NMP) are being restructured with the aim of reinvigorating a
moribund system.

The Health Department announced last week that following a review of the
operational arrangements of the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory
Council (APAC) and the Pharmaceutical Health And Rational use of
Medicines (PHARM) Committee, both would be closed down and replaced with
a new consultation and policy development structure.

Former chairs of APAC and PHARM, Dr John Aloizos and Professor Ric Day,
said both bodies had been "in limbo" since the review began around two
years ago and that a reform of the relationship between government, the
bureaucracy and stakeholders, including industry, was welcome.

"We looked at a lot of activities over the seven years of APAC and in
the early days contact with the minister's office was good but later on
there was a loss of contact," Dr Aloizos said. "We were gradually left
out of the decision-making loop."

"Up to the time of the review, the functions of PHARM were fading away a
bit because of a drying up of resources," Professor Day said. "The new
structure promises a reinvigoration of the process."

The department said the National Medicines Policy would now be supported
by the three level structure consisting of an NMP Executive, an NMP
Committee and an annual NMP Partnerships Forum.

Although the department said the process of establishing the new bodies
was still being worked on, Dr Aloizos said the forum was expected to be
the most widely consultative body with the committee engaging with the
various interest groups and the executive engaging with the department
and the minister's office.

He said he expected industry representatives would be involved at the
highest level.

Medicines Australia Chief Executive, Ian Chalmers, said: "In the absence
of any meetings of APAC and PHARM over the past two years, there has
been a vacuum in terms of strategic direction for the National Medicines
Policy. A mechanism to ensure that the National Medicines Policy is
effectively implemented is critical to patient health outcomes and
Medicines Australia will be interested to see how these new committees

"Medicines Australia was involved in the review process when it was
undertaken under the previous Government, but a copy of the final report
has not been made available to us."


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