Clinical trials community welcomes MRFF Board

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The Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA), a national coalition of more than 10,000 of Australia’s leading clinical and health services researchers, has welcomed the announcement of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board.

Health Minister Sussan Ley announced the members of the Board that will guide the allocation of grants from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) earlier this week.

The Board will be chaired by former Australian of the Year and one of the researchers behind discovery of the cervical cancer vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer AC, and also includes former AusBiotech-Chair and CEO of Adelaide-based Bionomics, Dr Deborah Rathjen.

“We are tremendously pleased to hear that the MRFF is a step closer to delivering now that the Board has been constituted,” said ACTA Chair, Professor John Zalcberg OAM.

“A key priority for the Advisory Board will be to ensure that the capital fund, which is to be derived predominantly from savings within the health budget, is strategically positioned to deliver the greatest returns to the community and to the healthcare system,” said ACTA Director Professor Steve Webb.

Professor Zalcberg suggested that those working at the coalface to improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare in Australia will welcome news that the MRFF is a step closer to delivering much needed funding.

“There is an imperative to ensure that patients receive care that is clinically appropriate and based on the best available evidence, but to do this we need to strengthen our capacity to generate reliable evidence and to measure and monitor the outcomes of the care that patients receive.

"The MRFF has been lauded by so many of us who conduct public-good clinical trials or operate clinical quality registries because it has the potential to allow us to identify, commission and adequately fund the types of high-priority studies that are of immediate relevance to patients, clinicians and the healthcare system itself,” said Professor Zalcberg.

Professor Webb used the current MBS review process to highlight this point. “The MBS review signifies a real call to action for the health and medical research sector. There is a clear need to build research architecture within the health system for generating better evidence about the comparative effectiveness of existing therapies in common use, as well as emerging technologies and medical breakthroughs.

“I believe the MRFF has a critical role to play in helping to fill these large evidence gaps so that we can start to address waste in a systematic way and foster true innovation in the delivery of high-­‐quality, high-­‐value clinical care,” added Professor Webb.