Updated on 29 May 2012
The buoyancy in the industry's performance stems from the fact that the country's biotechnology industry has performed well despite the challenges of economic downturn. The Australian biotech industry has been ranked fifth most innovative in the world by the Scientific American World View magazine (July 2011).
One of the most significant changes in terms of policy reforms has been the introduction of the research and development (R&D) tax incentive policy to boost innovation and research in the industry. There are other policy changes that had effects on the market. In the first quarter of 2011, it was announced that eight medicines would not be included in the country's pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS), which accounts for 75 percent of medicine spending, until 2013.
Having a drug listed means consistent high volume sales for these companies. However, the second quarter of 2011 saw 13 drugs being approved for inclusion on the PBS from September 2011, allowing patients to access these drugs at a significantly lower cost. The PBS also made it mandatory that all new reimbursement listing requests will be reviewed by the cabinet for approval.
In October 2011, Australia's Ministry of Health and Aging provided subsidized access to 48 medicines that will benefit more than 160,000 patients annually, effective from December 2011. This announcement came after an August 2011 report, released by Australia's Senate Finance and Administration References Committee, that recommended that the government reinstate the ‘$10.6 million (A$10 million) rule' so that the medicines with less financial impact can be listed on the PBS without the approval of the Cabinet.
Australian state governments are also taking initiatives to implement independent regional initiatives in medical research programs, in areas such as tropical medicine, bio-discovery, regenerative medicine, bioremediation, agricultural and industrial biotech, and medical devices.
Even though the overall employment condition in the industry in Australia is strong and 58 percent companies - respondents of Annual Biotechnology Industry Position Survey - are expecting to increase staff members, the economic and public policy environment is a concern. According to the industry position survey, only 24 percent found the atmosphere conducive for the growth of a biotechnology company.