ASMI Media Releases – 1. Switching Lag 2. New Complementary Meds Research 3. Govt. to Cut Red Tape

Australia behind the rest of the world on switch

17 October 2014 – The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) says New Zealand is leading the way in improving consumer access to medicines. A number of medicines such as trimethoprim for urinary tract infection; triptans for migraine; oseltamivir for flu and flu vaccines are available in New Zealand as over-the-counter (OTC) but still require a prescription in Australia.

This was in response to the reclassification of erectile dysfunction medicine Sildenafil in New Zealand to Pharmacist Only, where approved pharmacists have been trained under a program designed by the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. Sildenafil is the first erectile dysfunction product to be switched to OTC in the world.

ASMI Executive Director Dr Deon Schoombie said: “A recent study demonstrated that New Zealand was the most active country in progressive switches from 2003 to 2013, followed by the United Kingdom and Japan. Australia was one of three countries that showed the least switch activity during the decade.

“One of ASMI’s top priorities is to pursue reforms in this area. Reforms should include developing a scheduling policy, implementing a supporting regulatory framework, streamlining of processes and identifying the candidates for future switches through collaboration with consumers, pharmacists, GPs, industry and government to deliver a progressive and best practice scheduling environment.

“The wider availability of safe, proven and affordable medicines has the potential to make a positive impact on individual and public health by providing consumers with easier, more convenient and faster access to therapeutic products to treat illness and maintain health,” Dr Schoombie added

New Research: Complementary Medicines can contribute to reduced government healthcare costs and productivity gains

15 October 2014. A new study has quantified the potential reduction in economy-wide healthcare costs and productivity losses that can result from the use of specific complementary medicines in targeted populations.

Dr Deon Schoombie, Executive Director of the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI), which commissioned the research, said: “The report highlights the important role that complementary medicines and self care can play in improving individual health and reducing government healthcare costs.

The study, ‘Targeted Use of Complementary Medicines: Potential Health Outcomes and Cost Savings in Australia,’ by economic research firm Frost and Sullivan, revealed that when specific complementary medicines are used by high risk target populations, there is the potential for improvements in the health of individuals, lower costs due to reduced need for hospitalisation and reduced work absences/productivity losses.

The study examined six complementary medicines, all with evidence of efficacy, across four chronic disease conditions – osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease (CVD), age-related macular degeneration and depression.

“The biggest gains identified in the study are in the area of osteoporosis and osteopenia – conditions which resulted in approximately 140,822 fractures in 2012 and affect some 1.8 million people at a cost of approximately $3 billion per annum,” explained Dr Schoombie.

“Potential healthcare costs savings and productivity gains were calculated if all women over 50 with osteoporosis were to take calcium and vitamin D at a preventive dose to reduce the risk of osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures.

Frost and Sullivan found the relative risk of an individual in the target population experiencing an osteoporosis-attributed fracture is reduced by 19.7% given the use of calcium and vitamin D at preventive intake levels. This translates to a potential of 36,783 avoidable osteoporosis-attributed fractures in 2015 given 100 per cent utilisation of calcium and vitamin D by the high risk population.

The report estimated that between 2015 and 2020 average annual hospitalisation costs of $922 million can be potentially saved and average annual productivity gains of $900 million can be realised for the same period if all women aged over 50 who were diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia take a preventive dose of calcium and vitamin D.

“More than a half of the potential total benefits would go to the individual and over 42 per cent of potential total benefits can be realised by Federal and State governments. The average annual benefit/cost ratio between 2015 and 2020 is $22.34 for every dollar spent on this complementary medicine regimen,” he concluded.2

The report also explored the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) on Australians and the potential health and economic benefits that can be realised if an omega-3 fatty acid regimen was used by all Australians aged 55 and over who are diagnosed with CVD.

It was estimated that the relative risk of hospitalisation due to a CVD event can be reduced by 4.9 per cent and 6,894 average annual medical events avoided between 2015 -2020 if all Australians aged over 55 with CVD were to take omega-3 fatty acids at a preventive level. The average annual benefit cost ratio from 2015 to 2020 would be $8.49 for every dollar spent on the omega-3 fatty acids.

“This study followed a ‘health to wealth’ methodology,” according to Christopher Shanahan, global program manager, food and agriculture at Frost & Sullivan. “We wanted the science to guide us to what the cost savings and the productivity gains could be for Federal and State governments, individuals and enterprises such as private health insurers.”

About the Study

The Frost and Sullivan researchers conducted a review of peer-reviewed scientific literature, focusing on studies that quantified the effect of certain complementary medicines on the occurrence of disease-related events among targeted populations. From this review, an overall change in the relative risk of a given disease-related event resulting from the use of each of the complementary regimens was derived. Then, these relative risk reduction statistics were used as an input into a cost-benefit scenario analysis to determine the potential change in hospital utilisation costs and wage income gains that could be realised if people in a specified high-risk population were to use each of the complementary medicine regimens.

For a summary of the report click here.

For the full report click here.
ASMI welcomes Federal Government’s measures to cut red tape by accepting trusted international standards

15 October 2014 – The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that it will examine opportunities for greater acceptance of international standards and risk assessments.

ASMI Executive Director Dr Deon Schoombie, said: “While this announcement specifically mentions medical devices and industrial chemicals, ASMI argues that it should also include over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

“There is no compelling reason why the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) should re-assess non-prescription medicines where they have already been assessed by comparable overseas regulators.

“Recognising regulatory approvals of trusted overseas regulators will reduce barriers and offer Australian consumers faster access to innovative healthcare products. It will enable manufacturers and marketers of therapeutic goods to be more responsive and cost-effective.

“ASMI looks forward to working with the TGA to identify opportunities for reforms and to implement them.

“This is a great opportunity to re-visit those areas where the TGA is out of step with the rest of the world such as down-scheduling of certain prescription medicines to non-prescription, advertising of non-prescription medicines, scheduling of combination products, and regulation of the lowest risk complementary medicines,” Dr Schoombie added.

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