New Report: Australia’s Clinical Trials Sector Shows Healthy Growth

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20 May 2021

MTPConnect today marks International Clinical Trials Day 2021 with the release of a new report that reveals the size and scope of Australia’s clinical trials sector and opportunities for future growth.

The report - Australia’s Clinical Trials Sector: Advancing innovative healthcare and powering economic growth - has been developed in partnership with L.E.K Consulting and will provide an essential reference for the sector.

The report reveals that clinical trials contributed $1.4 billion to the Australian economy through direct expenditure or investment in 2019 and that the sector now employs more than 8,000 Australians.

It also details that 95,000 Australians participated in clinical trials in 2019, which saw around 1,880 trials started to advance medical knowledge and provide early access to potentially life-saving new treatments or medical interventions.

MTPConnect Managing Director & CEO, Dr Dan Grant, says the report celebrates one of the country’s most important sectors.

“Australia’s clinical trials sector is large and vibrant, impacting lives and livelihoods, yet it is sometimes overlooked for the contribution it makes to our country,” Dr Grant said.

“Clinical trials are an essential part of health and medical research and can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Not only that, but the sector sustains thousands of jobs and is a major contributor to economic growth, generating significant services export revenue.

“So as we celebrate International Clinical Trials Day and mark the work of Dr James Lind and his scurvy experiments with oranges and lemons onboard the HMS Salisbury in 1747, we thank the thousands of patients who volunteer every year to be involved in clinical research and the 8,000 people working on clinical trial programs around Australia.

“Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic gives us a window of opportunity to further strengthen our reputation as a clinical trials destination of choice.

“We are one of the few countries in the world with a sophisticated healthcare system where many COVID-19 related restrictions have been lifted or eased, which means we have the opportunity to attract even greater numbers of clinical trials to Australia.  

“Over the next 10 years, we have identified four emerging opportunities to capture a greater share of global clinical trials and grow the sector more rapidly. These relate to building our capability in precision healthcare in trials and undertaking innovative clinical trial design, applying digital health innovations to enhance patient recruitment and achieve efficiencies, and an increased focus on patient awareness and engagement to increase recruitment.”  

Dr Grant warned that we cannot take our eye off the key priorities identified in the report as they will strengthen the trajectory of this sector over the next decade.

“We must continue to optimise efficiency in ethics and governance processes towards a single ethical review and we must address the shortage of highly skilled and experienced Clinical Research Associates (CRAs) and Clinical Trial Coordinators (CTCs),” Dr Grant said.

“Improving the ease and scale of patient recruitment by increasing patient awareness and engagement and using patient-centric approaches like decentralised trials and digital health technologies will also be important to remain globally competitive. And we need to capture more detailed data and systemise reporting and tracking of our performance.

“Australia is well-placed to leverage its competitive advantages and continue growing its clinical trials sector, out-compete other countries for foreign investment, create skilled jobs and deliver sustained health benefits for Australians.”

The report was developed through extensive and whole-of-sector stakeholder engagement, including an Advisory Group convened to guide the scope of the report, as well as AusBiotech, Medicines Australia, Medical Technology Association of Australia and the Research & Development Taskforce.

The report was released today at a panel session with sector experts – ‘Clinical Trials in Australia: opportunities for growth’ – at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in Melbourne prior to the start of the ACTA Clinical Trials 2021: National Tribute and Award Ceremony. MTPConnect also proudly supported ACTA's Ceremony and celebration. 

This new report follows a comprehensive sector profile published by MTPConnect in 2017 – both serve as important resources for the sector. Both reports are available here.