Australian patients should be given a greater say in which medicines receive government reimbursement, according to the ‘Broadening the Evidence’ report launched this week.
Patient advocacy organisations, government representatives and patients themselves gathered in Sydney this week at the launch of the report, commissioned by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) Australia
The report makes nine recommendations about how best to involve patients in discussions about what treatments should be reimbursed through the PBS.
These recommendations include e-alerts to advise when a medicine is being considered for the PBS, masterclasses on how medicines are evaluated for reimbursement, and inviting patient advocates to attend consultations ahead of key meetings on which medicines should be recommended for PBS listing.
The federal Department of Health recently established a new unit dedicated to expanding opportunities for consumers and patients to play a central role in the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) decision-making process when treatments are being considered for reimbursement.
The report’s recommendations, some of which are already in the process of being adopted through the new unit have come at a pivotal time for the Department.
BMS Australia Head of Patient Advocacy and External Affairs Hayley Andersen sees this report as a useful resource to support continued progress.
“Patients have valuable knowledge and a unique perspective and they’re directly affected by the decisions to reimburse certain medicines,” she said. “The system should reflect their critical role, but we know through the consultation phase of this project that there’s a sense among stakeholders that the process for engagement and participation in the HTA [decision-making] process could be improved to do justice to the patient voice.
“The ‘Broadening the Evidence’ report proposes short and longer-term solutions to help patients share their insights about new treatments in a more meaningful way. Their role in reimbursement decisions is essential and the recommendations in this report can help ensure that our system reflects that.”
The report’s recommendations were developed following a review of the reimbursement process in other countries and by consulting Australian patients and patient organisations.