Updated on 20 November 2012
Dr Paul Hutchison: healthcare professional; Member of Parliament, Hunua; and chairman, Health Select Committee, New Zealand
Dr Paul Hutchison, a healthcare professional and a parliamentarian from Hunua, New Zealand, has emerged as one-of-the-most influential individuals when it comes to the life science policies of the island nation. He is presently the chair of the Health Select Committee, a key body responsible for bringing the recent changes in the clinical trial industry of New Zealand.
Dr Hutchison, in an interview to BioSpectrum, speaks about the about the various recommendations that have been made by a recent review report published by his committee and also about the future of the the clinical trial industry in New Zealand.
What did the Health Select Committee hope to achieve through the review?
The committee's major objective is to improve the environment in New Zealand is to carry out clinical trials and support innovation. We knew that this, in turn, is good for patients, for standards and education within the health system, for attracting key clinicians, for industry, commercialization and the economy.
New Zealand has excellent universities and research institutions and yet our investment in science R&D is below the Organization for Economic Co-orperation and Development (OECD) average for public expenditure at about 0.59 percent of GDP and one third of the OECD average of 0.5 percent of GDP. Health research investment is estimated at about one sixth of that of countries such as Australia, Canada, and the UK. We are all of the view that, over time, if New Zealand is to improve its OECD rankings, further investment in this area is fundamental.
Is the committee satisfied with the response of the government to the recommendations?
To my knowledge the committee is generally satisfied at the response given by the government. On the negative side, due to the global economic recession, it was understandable the government would not immediately respond to recommendations of greater investment although since 2008, health, education, and science R&D are the only areas of new government expenditure. The government has introduced goals of bringing both public and private expenditure on R&D up to the OECD average.