Recognition for Department of Health official

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Recognition in the Australia Day Honours List for a Department of Health official with a leading role in administering the process for the funding of new health technologies.

Karen Binnekamp, a pharmacist by profession who has been with the Department of Health for almost two decades, has been awarded the Public Service Medal. She was one of only 16 federal public servants to receive the medal in this year's honours list.

According to the citation, "Ms Binnekamp has been instrumental in having the latest innovative therapies subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), in particular the public listing of a key HIV prevention drug, and the public subsidy of a new therapy to fight blood related cancers.

"She works closely with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to ensure the PBS continues to provide a cost effective solution for Australians to access affordable options in medical treatment. In particular she has led complicated negotiations for the delivery of PBS medicines for conditions such as cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and lung cancer.

"She liaised with community advocates seeking to have the HIV preventative drug PrEP added to the PBS, and through effective negotiation with suppliers ensured the value for money requirement was achieved and the drug added to the PBS.

"Ms Binnekamp also worked closely with the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) on the public funding of Car-T cell therapy. She led a team that developed a unique package of payment and risk sharing that reduced the upfront cost of this, an innovative cancer therapy for patients, and the first treatment of its kind in Australia. She presided over complicated negotiations with the manufacturer to convert the MSAC recommendations into a public subsidy deal, whilst ensuring the listing would deliver long term value for money.

"As a result of this work, the first patients accessed the publicly subsidised treatment in July 2019, only three months after the MSAC subsidy recommendation. Ms Binnekamp is focused on the needs of the patient, driving her to provide strong quality evidence to health committees and, as a result, she has achieved positive outcomes for patients and optimum value for the Australian Government."