Leading health bureaucrat returns to head up generics and biosimilars peak body
Jane Halton, former Secretary of the Department of Health has been appointed as the inaugural independent chair of Australia’s peak body for generic and biosimilar medicines.
Well-known to many in pharmacy through her role as a chief negotiator in a number of previous community pharmacy agreements, Ms Halton served as head of both the Departments of Health, and Finance, during her 33 year career in the civil service. She also served for a time as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Ms Halton now takes on the role of leading the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) – the peak representative body of generic and biosimilar medicine suppliers in Australia.
“To return to my domestic health policy roots, and lead the GBMA at such a significantly important time for Australian patients and our vital healthcare community, is a challenge I am delighted to embrace,” Ms Halton said.
“As we look to the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine for our citizens, we also need to be vigilant that all Australians continue to receive the medicines they need, when they need them.”
Ms Halton – who oversaw 13 health budgets – said she was keen to forge a national understanding of the role generic and biosimilar medicines play as the ballast for a sustainable Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
A reliable supply of low cost, high volume generic and biosimilar medicines are needed in Australia to ensure there remains fiscal headroom on the PBS to subsidise expensive innovative medicines and offset the cost of life-saving vaccines, she said.
Marnie Peterson, CEO of GBMA said the group was thrilled Ms Halton will lead the peak body through an unpredictable and rapidly shifting health, policy and economic landscape.
“Jane is respected as a health and economic policy powerhouse, without peer, in Australia and globally,” she said.
“To end such a traumatic year with Jane as our first Independent Chair is absolutely wonderful news and we know governments, patients, clinicians, hospitals and pharmacists alike will also applaud Jane’s return to the Australian medicine policy front line.”
“All of our members have worked around the clock to protect Australia’s patients against medicine supply chain disruptions,” Ms Peterson said. “Jane joins the GBMA board at a pivotal time as we navigate through a new five year strategic agreement negotiation with the Government and help shape new national medicine policy.”
Ms Halton has most recently served as Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Co-Chair of COVAX.