September 9, 2005

Medical Research Poll Cannot Be Ignored

Australians consider medical research to be a more important priority for funding and resources than tax cuts and border protection, a new poll has found.

It shows that Australians believe extra funding should be pumped into researching diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and mental health. These will become even greater health issues as the population ages.

Medicines Australia Chief Executive Officer, Kieran Schneemann, said the findings compiled for Research Australia by Crosby Textor were a timely reminder for everyone interested in better health outcomes.

Mr Schneemann said Australia's innovative pharmaceutical sector agreed with Research Australia's position that this was an important national priority, and an all-out community effort was needed ramp up funding and resources.

Pioneering work is being done in Australia in medical research. For example, the vaccine for cervical cancer developed by a University of Queensland team led by Professor Ian Frazer could save the lives of 200,000 women around the world every year.

But to bring such a product to market takes time and money. More than $1 billion has been spent by pharmaceutical companies over the past decade on this vaccine.

Recently, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicted that the number of new cancer cases would jump by 30 percent by 2011, reflecting the ageing population. This will place intense demand upon health budgets and services around Australia, and see an increased demand for new and innovative treatments.

"Pharmaceutical companies already spend more than any other sector on research and development "“ about $520 million a year," Mr Schneemann said. "But without the right framework and conditions set by government, this could be at risk.

"This poll shows very clearly what Australians are thinking. It is critical now that its findings are taken forward in government decision-making around Australia."

On the World Wide Web:

Research Australia