Medtech companies call for change in submissions to inquiry

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Medical technology companies have used their submissions to a parliamentary inquiry to call for changes in approval processes for new medicines and medical technologies.

In its submission to the inquiry led by Coalition MP Trent Zimmerman, Medtronic says change is required to ensure processes like the Prostheses List keep pace with "the rapid pace of innovation in the medical technology sector".

It says, "You only have to look at recent advances such as mechanical thrombectomy (MT) for treatment of acute ischaemic stroke, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) for aortic stenosis, and insulin pump therapy for people with diabetes to see how medical technology is transforming lives in Australia. But the question can be asked of all these therapies, do patients who will benefit currently have access in our healthcare system?"

The company says the risk is that reimbursement arrangements "create perverse incentives not to adopt newer technology".

"Funding policies that dictate where technology has to be delivered can also create additional inefficiencies across the healthcare system," it says.

Medtronic recommends the retention of the current Prostheses List, which determines what devices are reimbursed by private health insurers, but with changes including the inclusion of innovative non-implantable technology.

It also recommends the adoption of more 'value-based considerations' in health technology reimbursement.

In its submission, Johnson & Johnson calls for recognition of an 'international reality' when it comes to pricing,

The company, which discovers, develops and commercialises a very wide range of medical technologies, highlights the potential impact of international reference pricing policies in the US and China, describing it as profound.

"A reduction in the amount spent on new medical technologies globally will have an impact on the global industry’s ability to fund future research and development.

"Australian access policies must recognise that the prices paid for medical technologies in Australia do have an impact on the rest of the world. There is an opportunity for Australia to gain an increasing share of the global medical research and development investment, while ensuring its access polices both recognise and reward the value of new medical technologies and allow for their rapid adoption.

"If Australian medical access policies and funding are not viewed within an international context, it could result in adverse outcomes for patients. Suppliers may not bring or significantly delay the introduction of new medical technologies to this relativity small market."

The company says approval processes for devices and pharmaceuticals "have increasingly focused on cost containment and financial risk reduction."

The company recommends a number of changes, including the need for Australia to recognise its place in the global supply chain and ensuring processes are technologically 'fit-for-purpose'.