Minister Lauds 50 Years of Independent Expert Advice

The Australian Government has paid tribute to the work of a committee of eminent health experts.

Page last updated: 12 February 2014

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12 February 2014

The Australian government is today paying tribute to the work of a committee of eminent health experts that was originally established in the wake of the tragic thalidomide experience 50 years ago.

Launching a commemorative booklet about the 50 year history of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, the Federal Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, commended the many distinguished past and present health professionals who have served on this committee which has helped ensure medicines on the Australian market are effective and as safe as possible.

"The booklet I am launching today, 50 years of independent expert advice on prescription medicines, takes us from the beginning of this journey, starting with thalidomide, and traces advice through the years,” Minister Nash said.

"The awful side effects on children born to mothers who used thalidomide during pregnancy highlighted that medicines have risks as well as benefits. The Australian response to this international incident was the establishment of an independent committee to assess the safety of new medicines as well as monitor those medicines already available.

"In June 1963 the Commonwealth Government established the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee (ADEC) and this committee, under a different name, has continued to provide our medicines' regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with evidence based advice on the evaluation and registration of thousands of new prescription medicines.

"Translating good science into sound decisions for the benefit of the population makes a fascinating story," Senator Nash said.

“All medicines have benefits that need to be balanced against their risks for a wide range of different patient groups in Australia.

"The benefits of prescription medicines safely reaching the market are clear. Looking back over these 50 years, it is amazing to think about how medicine has changed many of our lives for the better.

"For example in 2014, a child with Type 1 diabetes now has the opportunity to have a long and happy life.

"That child will have their lifespan increased with insulin—made from the recombinant DNA technology first approved by the TGA almost 20 years ago— which can be continuously infused through a pump, also tested and approved by the TGA.

"The Australian Government recognises the value of independent, expert advice from committees, such as the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee and its successor, the Advisory Committee on Prescription Medicines, and the role that they play in reducing risk and achieving quality health outcomes for all Australians."

Minister Nash media contact: Carolyn Martin, 0417 966 328.

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