Minister announces funding for largest Australian clinical trial

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The largest clinical trial ever undertaken in Australia is one of 601 grants announced by Health Minister Sussan Ley.

The minister announced almost half a billion dollars in grants yesterday, including $4.7 million for the largest clinical trial ever undertaken in Australia.

Professor John McNeil of Monash University was awarded the grant for a trial that will determine if a daily low dose of aspirin prevents disease in healthy older Australians. This will bring the total investment in this clinical trial to over $10 million.

The ASPREE trial is a joint Australia-US collaboration involving 16,700 Australians aged 70 and over and more than 2,000 Australian GPs. Another 2,500 participants are in the US. There are 6,000 participants from regional areas of Australia.

The funding will enable the study to complete its final stage of data collection and answer important questions about the benefits and risks of aspirin in this age group and its effects on disability-free survival.

Although established primarily to study low dose aspirin it has become an important vehicle to study many other aspects of the health of older Australians, said Ms Ley.

The minister said the Turnbull government is committed to continuing medical research investment.

“We know that every dollar invested in medical research returns on average more than $2 in benefits through reducing the burden of disease and driving productivity.

“This $483 million investment allows our researchers to continue with their world-class and internationally- renowned research.

“It includes $23 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, $35 million for mental health research and $123 million for cancer research, among other diseases and conditions.

“The Turnbull Government continues to lead the way in protecting our health now and into the future. From 2013 to 2016, funding under the NHMRC has increased by $100 million from $750 million to more than $850 million.

“Over the next year the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will distribute an additional $61 million into new research, over and above NHMRC grant funding.”