Date published: 
22 March 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

GREG HUNT:

So I’m really privileged to be here at, not just the Alfred Hospital, but here in the Clinical Trials Research Unit and whether it’s with Tisha, whether it’s with Professor Nandurkar, whether it’s with Professor Myles or Victoria Mar, John Kelly - obviously the head of the Alfred Andrew Way or our amazing nurses and doctors.

Today is actually about the patients. Patients such as Penny and Peter, Lauren and Michael, and that’s because clinical trials save lives and protect lives. They’re about giving each patient the best shot and a full life and they’re also about bringing new medicines to all patients.

So the story of Michael – Michael said that he was on a clinical trial and involved KEYTRUDA, but if not for that clinical trial he would not be here today, but he’s well and he’s healthy.

One of the great challenges though has been making sure that patients around Australia, in rural and regional areas have access to regional clinical trials.

Now, we’re changing that. Today, I’m delighted to announce that the Australian government will invest $24.6 million in bringing clinical trials to the region through the Alfred Hospital and Monash University.

It’s a national clinical trials hub, the Australian Clinical Trials Network Trial Hub. It will be led by the Alfred Hospital and Monash University; it will work with other hospitals and universities around Australia to bring clinical trials to people in the regions.

It will initially start with three areas of focus here in Victoria that cover the areas of practice of Monash University and the outreach of the Alfred Hospital. Bendigo, the city of Casey and Rosebud Hospital – these are areas which all have different needs.

Rosebud, for example, has one of the highest prostate cancer incidences in not just Victoria but within Australia.

More generally, what we are also going to focus on is melanoma. Melanoma, rare cancers, rare diseases, prostate cancer – these are all parts of the clinical trials – breast cancer and so it could be something such as cystic fibrosis and giving people access to new medicines such as Orkambi, which went through clinical trials processes.

But bringing these trials to people in rural and regional Australia so as they don’t need to travel and so as they don’t miss out.

JOURNALIST:

So how many regional Victorians will be able to benefit from this then?

GREG HUNT:

Well, over the course of the next decade, we would like to see hundreds of thousands of Australians have access to clinical trials that might not otherwise have been the case.

One of the ways we’re able to do this is we will have the Australian Clinical Trials Network trial hub led by the Alfred and Monash, but we also have the Medical Research Future Fund – quarter of a billion-dollar program, which is the rare cancers, rare diseases clinical trials program.

So the Alfred and their partners will have access to new funds for new clinical trials but now they’ll have access to funds to deliver them to patients in the regions.

JOURNALIST:

And will this (inaudible) just be Victoria or were you planning it Australia-wide?

GREG HUNT:

It starts in Victoria but it will travel Australia-wide. And so this isn’t a short term commitment, it’s a six-year commitment and my expectation is that at the end of the six years that this will be a permanent and ongoing program.

So it’s a long term initial program of six years but my expectation is that it will be forever.

JOURNALIST:

Okay. Thank you very much.

GREG HUNT:

Thank you.