Australia’s life sciences industry has called on the Government to boost funding for the TGA as the regulator struggles with a heavier workload including a burgeoning medicinal cannabis sector.

In a letter to senior ministers copied to TGA boss John Skerritt, representatives from the sector urged the Government to “retain and empower Australia’s world-leading therapeutics regulator by addressing the outdated funding model that it is operating within”. 

While welcoming the Government’s commitment to initiatives such as the A$15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, the Trailblazer Universities Program supporting regional research and development, and the establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control, the authors said these measures were at odds with the lack of sustainable federal funding for the TGA.

They said the regulator’s role had evolved significantly over time to include a substantial amount of ‘public health activities’ beyond evaluating, assessing, and monitoring medicines and medical devices, insisting the funding model had not kept pace.

“The TGA is now involved in the management of medicine shortages, providing education to consumer and healthcare professionals, regulation of cannabis products, and management of nicotine vaping products. We fully support this essential public health work. The Government must do the same.”

The authors said while public health programs represent about a third of the TGA’s work, only around 7% of its funding is provided through public funds, with the remaining 93% collected through industry fees and charges. 

“Funding for important public health measures and health emergencies should be provided by the Government, not cross-subsidised through TGA measures such as existing cost-recovery models,” they said.

Comparing the TGA’s situation unfavourably to other health regulators around the world, most notably the US Food and Drug Administration which is 54% financed through public funds, they said May’s federal budget was “the ideal opportunity to create a viable funding model for the TGA”. 

“If such public funding is not secured, it has the potential to diminish the Government’s otherwise ambitious life sciences initiatives, weaken the life sciences ecosystem, and most concerningly, undermine the health of all Australians,” the authors warned.

The letter was sent by AusBiotech, Medicines Australia, the Medical Technology Association of Australia, ANDHealth, BioMelbourne Network, Life Sciences Queensland, and Life Sciences WA.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

Leave a comment