Clinical trials provide $1.1b to Australian economy: MTPConnect releases report on clinical trials ecosystem in Australia

MTPConnect – the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Industry Growth Centre – today released a new report ‘Clinical Trials in Australia: the economic profile and competitive position of the sector’, the first comprehensive overview of the entire clinical trials landscape in Australia.

Produced in collaboration with L.E.K Consulting and funded by the Australian Government under the Industry Growth Centre Initiative, the report includes input from a range of sector participants and stakeholders. Whilst previous reports on the activity and economic profile of clinical trials have focused on sub-segments of the sector, MTPConnect’s report provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of clinical trials in Australia, including investigative and observational trials, trials conducted in public and private settings, and trials sponsored by both industry and non-industry sponsors.

The report highlights the significant contribution that the conduct of clinical trials makes to the Australian economy, evaluates Australia’s strong competitive position in the world market, and details priorities for future growth.

Key findings of the report include:

  • The Australian clinical trials sector is large and growing. Approximately 1,360 new clinical trials were commenced in Australia in 2015, and this figure has been growing at roughly 5% per year since 2010, outpacing the US, the UK, and the overall global average growth rate.
  • Investment in active clinical trials accounted for roughly $1.1 billion in gross expenditure in 2015. This includes approximately $930 million invested by industry sponsors, the large majority of which are international medical device, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies that have chosen to invest in Australia.
  • The Australian clinical trials sector supported at least 6,900 high skilled jobs in 2015, the large majority requiring tertiary education levels.

The MTPConnect report highlights that the economic profile of the Australian clinical trial sector is significant, with the potential to surpass $2 billion of annual expenditure in the next 10 years, creating more than 6,000 new high-skilled jobs.

The conduct of clinical trials also produces flow-on benefits for patients through earlier access to new treatments leading to improved health outcomes, and for the broader medical research sector by promoting a strong research culture and exposing Australian clinicians to innovative new practices. The economic activity related to clinical trials also produces multiplier effects in the broader economy due to higher workforce participation from patients who are healthier (as a result of clinical trials), as well as the higher spending power of the people employed in the sector.

Sue MacLeman, Chief Executive Officer of MTPConnect, said, “Australia has a strong reputation as a destination for clinical trials globally. The drivers of this success include the quality of our research infrastructure and output, our medical experts, financial incentives that support cost competitiveness such as the R&D Tax Incentive, and our ability to offer a rapid trial start up process due to reforms such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Clinical Trial Notification scheme and streamlined ethics approvals.”

Honourable Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, congratulated MTPConnect on the report and said, “The Government recognises the vital importance of clinical trials and research to deliver better health outcomes for Australians. Clinical trials have been behind many of Australia’s great medical research success stories, like the Gardasil vaccine and Cochlear implants, and continue enhance Australia world class medical research reputation.

“Clinical trials are the backbone of the health system and with the leadership of researchers are driving new treatments, drugs and devices that are changing the health landscape and making a difference to health and wellbeing.

“To build on our successes the Government is investing $18 million under the first disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund to support new activity and reinforce the important role of clinical trial networks. This is in addition to the more than $70 million awarded on average each year for new clinical trials by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The Australian Government is also working with states and territories under a $7 million initiative to further streamline trial operations making it easier for participants, investigators and sponsors to carry out this important work.

“Australian is a preferred destination for clinical trials and I congratulate MTPConnect on this important report which demonstrates why that is the case.”

The report acknowledges the significant work that has been undertaken across government and sector participants to improve Australia’s competitive position, as well as recent announcements by the Department of Health to continue to invest in the sector through vehicles such as the Medical Research Future Fund. It also identifies a number of priority areas for the future that will support the growth of the sector and will strengthen Australia’s competitive position. These include:

  • Optimising the efficiency of the conduct of clinical trials by continuing the reform agenda and building on the success of existing initiatives
  • Enhancing patient recruitment
  • Improving Australia’s capabilities in trials involving novel trial design, and better integrating translational medicine into trials
  • Increasing transparency through sector metrics, and systematically tracking key performance indicators

MTPConnect is pleased to be playing a role in supporting these priorities and hopes that this report provides the impetus and fact base needed to pursue opportunities, track progress, and ensure Australia not only maintains but improves on its current position as a world-leading clinical trial destination.

For more information, you can download the Clinical Trials in Australia report here: mtpconnect.org.au/clinicaltrials