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Drug industry lobbyist must not be appointed.

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Drug Industry Lobbyist Must Not Be Appointed Jenny Macklin - Shadow Minister for Health

Media Statement - 1 February 2001

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The proposed appointment of a drug industry lobbyist to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) must not go ahead, says Jenny Macklin, Shadow Minister for Health.

The PBAC is the expert body that decides which drugs are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and receive Federal Government subsidies. These subsidies are worth millions to the drug companies.

The Howard Government is proposing to appoint Mr Pat Clear to the PBAC. Mr Clear has been a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist and senior executive in the drug company Wellcome for more than 30 years.

"The appointment of an industry representative creates a serious conflict of interest," Ms Macklin said.

"The drug manufacturing industry should not be represented on a committee that decides which drugs will receive federal government subsidies.

"The PBAC has had a long history of independence, which would be completely destroyed by the appointment of an industry representative. The public must be able to have faith that the decisions the PBAC makes are not affected by any interest group. The committee's decisions should be based on what is best for the community, not what is best for multi-national drug companies.

"To appoint an industry representative would be like giving the fox the key to the henhouse, and more costs would be pushed onto the consumer as a result.

"This would represent another step in the Government's efforts to push Australia further down the road of the US-style health system, where the user pays. It would be a tragedy if we came to a situation where some people could not afford essential medicines."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.