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Powerful drug committee doubles meeting notice

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The pharmaceutical industry has welcomed a move to increase the transparency of the powerful Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee amid mounting frustration with approval delays and listing rejections.

In a reform to its processes the Committee, which recommends on drugs to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, will now publish the agenda for each meeting 10 weeks ahead of time – up from six weeks.

The move was welcomed by peak industry group Medicines Australia, which described it as “practical [and] meaningful”.

“It means consumers, consumer groups and members of the general public will now have more time to prepare submissions and make comments to the PBAC on new medicines and vaccines seeking listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” Medicines Australia Chief Executive Dr Brendan Shaw said.

The move came after reports the pharmaceutical industry has become increasingly unhappy with the operation of the committee, complaining of long delays in getting medicines listed and opaque decision making processes.

Dr Shaw told The Australian Financial Review that “it’s clear that something needs to give in the process for listing new medicines”.

Adrian Rollins