Clinical trials gets well-deserved support to lead the world


This week’s Federal Budget delivered a range of measures to boost Australia’s competitive advantage in clinical trials, including new funding, the pledge of a feasibility study for a one-stop shop for clinical trials and an exemption from the $ 4 million cap on the Research and Development Tax Incentive (R&DTI).

Support for clinical trials traverses portfolios of ‘Industry, Innovation and Science’ and ‘Health’ and their initiatives such as the Biomedical Translation Fund, the Medical Research Future Fund and strategies to make Australia a preferred destination for clinical trials.

The Budget pledged $248 million to allow more clinical trials to occur in Australia and support international collaboration and the development a feasibility study to create a one stop shop for clinical trials - intended make it “easier for companies, sponsors and investigators to navigate the system and invest in clinical trials across Australia.”

AusBiotech warmly welcomed the initiative to consider the feasibility of creating a one-stop shop for clinical trials, as this has been the focus of advocacy efforts for almost a decade. The AusBiotech Clinical Trial Advisory Group (ABCtag) will be active over the coming months to support this initiative.

In a sensible and overdue measure, the Government will remove customs tariffs from placebos and clinical trial kits that are imported into Australia from 1 July 2018. This too has been the subject of advocacy over many years and a welcome development.

The Government says it will invest $500 million in the Genomics Health Futures Mission through the MRFF over ten years to drive a new era in health care for Australians, which includes funding more clinical trials in Australia.

The Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission will provide $125 million over ten years, to assist an additional one million people to receive diagnosis and treatment, and support the translation of research into clinical trials.

The Government’s comprehensive plan for “better targeting the Research and Development Tax Incentive” (R&DTI), included a clinical trials exemption from a $4 million cap for the refundable component.

A recent report by the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry, housed in NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney reveals 5.2 million people have participated in more than 10,000 clinical trials conducted between 2006-2015, with cancer the most frequently studied health issue and more than $1 billion is invested each year by both government and industry.

These measures combined will Australia to keep its hard-won momentum in clinical trials and continue its growth in commercialising medical research.