Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) boss Professor John Skerritt has announced he will retire in April after 11 years in the role.
Minister for health and aged care Mark Butler said Skerritt leaves behind “an extraordinary record of public service”.
He added: “He has become synonymous with, and the public face of, the TGA. During this time it was his reassurances that left Australians confident in the approval and regulation of medicines, vaccines and treatments.
“Professor Skerritt has had many achievements over the course of his career including implementing the medicines and medical devices review, digital transformation, the regulation of medicinal cannabis, the rapid registration of Covid vaccines and treatments and playing a leading role in international harmonisation of regulation.
“His legacy will be large but he will leave behind a strong and capable team. I wish to thank Professor Skerritt for his work and wish him well in his retirement.”
Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (AMCA) co-founder and chair Lucy Haslam said: “We acknowledge the significant time and effort that John has given AMCA and the wider medicinal cannabis sector, particularly over recent years.
“He has been responsive to our concerns, and we appreciate that much of the positive movement in relation to patient access has been down to John’s willingness to listen to the industry’s concerns and respond accordingly.
“We greatly appreciate his support, particularly for AMCA’s proposal of a compassionate access scheme. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
The Emerging Therapeutics Association of Australia (ETAA) thanked Skerritt for his “distinguished service to the Australian people” commending his “strong and steady leadership throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and stewardship over the regulatory changes that enabled medicinal cannabis treatment in Australia”.
Chair Guy Headley said under Skerritt’s leadership, the emerging therapeutics goods industry had been able to “collaboratively and productively work with the TGA to navigate one of the most important medicines regulation reforms in a generation, establishing a framework for medicinal cannabis products in Australia”.
He added: “Regulatory changes implemented by Professor Skerritt have radically improved access to medical cannabis products for over 100,000 Australians, and his commitment to the health and safety of all Australians should be commended.”
“The ETAA looks forward to continuing our productive relationship with Professor Skerritt’s successor to streamline safe and affordable treatment pathways for medicinal cannabis products in a variety of contexts, and ensure the regulatory processes governing patient access… are fit for purpose.
“The ETAA thanks Professor Skerritt for his service to the Australian health sector and wishes him all the very best for a well-earned retirement.”
Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) chair Peter Crock also paid tribute to Skerritt’s “integrity, longstanding interest in medicinal cannabis and passion to help implement regulations for our new and emerging industry”.
He added: “The pathway has been, and continues to be, challenging, but John’s guidance and pragmatism as the ultimate regulator has certainly assisted the industry to develop and grow, and most importantly, helped provide the health sector and patients with confidence in this new and exciting medicine.
“On behalf of MCIA we wish John all the best for his retirement, although we know he will continue to be actively involved until he walks out the door.
“We sincerely thank him for his contribution to our industry and broader health sector outcomes.”
In a LinkedIn post, Medicines Australia congratulated Skerritt on his long career in public service, describing him as “a cornerstone of our health system for many years”.
It added: “On behalf of our industry, members and board, we thank him for his service and dedication to Australia.”
A TGA spokesperson told Cannabiz an announcement will be made regarding Skerritt’s replacement in due course.