New awareness campaign to support clinical trials

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Health minister Greg Hunt has announced the Turnbull government is launching a national awareness campaign to encourage participation in clinical trials.

The announcement came in advance of International Clinical Trials Day.

'The Helping Our Health' campaign will be led by four-time AFL premiership player and Hawthorn Football Club Captain, Jarryd Roughead.

Mr Roughhead, who had a melanoma on his lip removed in 2015, confronted the reality in 2016 that it had spread.

He was successfully treated with a combination of two immunotherapies, Bristol-Myers Squibb's OPDIVO (nivolumab) and YERVOY (Ipilimumab). The therapies are listed on the PBS as monotherapy but not in combination.

"This is the power of clinical trials and we want more Australians to access them. They offer hope of better diagnosis, treatment and ultimately cure," said Mr Hunt.

According to Mr Roughead, “The effective treatment of Australians living with medical conditions were in part dependent on the success of clinical trials and innovative research.

"I am proud to be advocating for such an important cause. Without clinical trials, the treatment I received for melanoma would not have been possible."

The new campaign will feature social and digital advertisements telling the stories of Australian patients who have been through and benefited from clinical trials, encouraging people to sign up for a clinical trial.

Former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer said, “Clinical trials are the means by which we move medical research into clinical practice for the benefit of the general public. They are the innovation that drives health system improvement and given us prolonged and healthier lives."

Novartis Australia also welcomed the government's announcement. The company said it currently invests over $20 million in Australian-based clinical trials every year.

According to chief scientific officer, Dr Simon Fisher, “We may have the ideas and the drive to create innovative medicines but it is the researchers and trial participants working with us who make potentially life-changing treatments a reality.”