Health technology assessment and consumers
Why is health technology assessment (HTA) important?Consumers have multiple reasons for ensuring that Australia has an effective, efficient HTA system. As patients, they want timely access to safe, affordable appropriate treatments for their condition. As carers, family members and friends they are affected by the impact of technologies on the patient’s ability to participate in family and community life. As members of the community and tax payers, they want to be confident that government funds are spent appropriately and, for technologies that do not pose other environmental or health risks.
In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) assesses the safety, quality and efficacy of new health technologies for entering on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Once a health technology is on the ARTG, it can be marketed for use in Australia.
The manufacturer or sponsor of a technology may also submit an application for their health technology to undergo HTA for reimbursement if they wish to seek public or private subsidy under an Australian Government funding program(s). This process assesses the technology for comparative clinical (including comparative safety) and cost-effectiveness compared to existing healthcare interventions. The Australian Government has three HTA expert advisory committees providing advice on whether health technologies should receive government funding:
- the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for pharmaceuticals to be funded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and vaccines to be funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP);
- the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) for medical services involving new procedures or health technologies to be funded under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS); and
- the Prostheses List Advisory Committee (PLAC - formerly the Prostheses and Devices Committee) for prostheses to be funded through private health insurance arrangements under the Prostheses List.
Consumers expect the HTA system to provide:
- rigorous safety assessment;
- access to cost–effective health technologies; and
- consumer choice of a range of reimbursed health care interventions.
How can consumers get involved?The department works in partnership with the Consumers Health Forum of Australia and other consumer organisations to ensure consumers are represented on the HTA expert advisory committees.
Consumers are able to report an adverse event arising from use of a health technology directly to the TGA, which will investigate the report and implement appropriate action if required.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) publishes a list of applications due for consideration at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting six weeks prior to each meeting. Consumers are able to provide comments on the item from a personal or group perspective for consideration by the PBAC when the submission is considered.
Further information about PBAC Meeting Agenda and Consumer Comments
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Page currency, Latest update: 04 November, 2011