Medicines exports earn more money 'than cars and wine'
Recent trade figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have shown Australia earns almost $4 billion a year from exporting medicines.
"Australia earns more money exporting medicines than that is does from exporting cars, wine or scientific instruments," said Dr Brendan Shaw, Medicines Australia chief executive.
"Predictable policy changes are important for the industry's future. That's why last Friday's sudden announcement in the government's Economic Statement of changes to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme price disclosure policy without consultation was extremely disappointing."
While medicines exports held up well in the face of a high Australian dollar over the last five years, Australia's annual medicines exports have fallen back to $3.9 billion in 2012 13 from their peak of $4.1 billion in 2009-10.
"While there's been lots of debate about Australian industries and their future, we have a real opportunity to make the Australian medicines industry a key component of preparing the Australian economy for a post-mining boom future," Dr Shaw said.
"Australia already has competitive advantages in things like medical research, exports, clinical trials and specialist high-value manufacturing. We have a real chance to build on this industry and make it one of Australia's leading industries of the future.
"We can grow this industry even more from what it is today, provided we have predictable, stable policy settings that support the Australian industry.
"That means predictable pricing policies for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and improving its processes for approving innovative medicines, as well as a re-commitment to the National Medicines Policy which recognises the link between commercial viability and medicine supply.
"It also means stable and strong intellectual property policies that support innovation and policies to grow the Australian medicines industry and its research.
"A predictable policy framework that encourages the industry to supply medicines in a timely manner and build Australia's economic competitiveness is important to Australia's future."