Low ranking for Australia in new innovation report

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A new report from the US-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has ranked Australia 52nd out of 56 countries when it comes to how policies impact biopharmaceutical innovation.

The hard to believe report ranks Australia alongside India, South Africa, Thailand and the Philippines. In an extraordinary outcome, and one that raises serious doubts about the voracity of the report, New Zealand is ranked 18 places above Australia.

The report, How National Policies Impact Global Biopharma Innovation: A Worldwide Ranking, claims Australia is amongst a group of countries that "offers lifesciences innovators only weak IP protections."

Other reports have ranked Australia very high when it comes to intellectual property protection for life sciences innovators. The recent policy debate has focussed on a potential increase in the data exclusivity period for biologics. Yet Australia maintains an internationally recognised strong protection regime, including patent term extensions.

Arguably the report's biggest stumble is in relation to pricing. It describes the 'extent of price controls' amd 'forced price reductions' in Australia as 'high', which few would argue. However, it describes the same policies in New Zealand as 'moderate'. New Zealand's pharmaceutical purchasing agency, PHARMAC, uses single source tenders to secure the lowest prices amongst developed countries.

The report only uses three indicators - government spending on health R&D, pharmaceutical price controls and data exclusivity for biologics.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation was established in 2006. It describes itself as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute—a think tank—focusing on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Its mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress."