Suzanne Hill to step down as PBAC chair

Industry leaders have congratulated Dr Suzanne Hill, the Chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, who is set to take on a new role with the World Health Organization.

Dr Hill will step down as Chair of the PBAC after its meeting in March.

“Under Dr Hill’s leadership, the PBAC has maintained its reputation as one of the premier technical and scientific advisory bodies in Australia,” says Health Minister Sussan Ley, congratulating Dr Hill on the move.

“During Dr Hill’s time as chair, the PBAC recommended many important new and innovative medicines for conditions including Hepatitis C, advanced melanoma, and cystic fibrosis, all of which have improved the quality of life of thousands of Australians.

“The role of the PBAC is a challenging one, navigating the difficult path of balancing the needs of patients, clinicians and industry with the complexities of making new and high cost medicines available for all Australians.

“Importantly, Dr Hill also strengthened the input of patients into the PBAC process, a goal which will continue to enrich the committee’s deliberations.”

The process to identify a new Chair has commenced.

Ms Ley also announced four new appointments to the PBAC today.

Professor Robyn Ward and Professor Andrew Roberts, long standing members of the PBAC with expertise in oncology and haematology, have been re-appointed for an additional four years.

“I would like to thank Professor Ward and Professor Roberts for their unfailing commitment to the work of the PBAC and their outstanding advice to improve the health of all Australians,” Ms Ley says.

“Their re appointment ensures that the Committee has the required expertise and experience in areas where the number and complexity of new therapies being submitted for subsidy is increasing.”

Dr Elizabeth Marles and Dr Thomas Snelling have also been appointed to the PBAC for four years.

Dr Marles, who was nominated by the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioner (RACGP), is an experienced GP and President of the RACGP. Dr Snelling, who was nominated by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, is an expert in infectious disease medicines and vaccines.

Ms Ley also thanked Professor Jim Buttery and Professor David Isaacs for their contributions to the PBAC over the last eight years.

Following the November meeting, the PBAC announced 39 positive recommendations for 35 conditions including melanoma, breast and lung cancers with the total Government expenditure for the Committee’s recommendations to be over $1.5 billion over the forward estimates.

“Since October 2013, the Australian Government has funded $984 million in new and improved medicines for inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to benefit thousands of Australians on the advice of the PBAC,” Ms Ley says.

“And at its next meeting in March, the PBAC will consider a record number of new submissions, demonstrating that Australia is well and truly open for business.”

Medicines Australia CEO, Tim James, also congratulated Dr Hill on her new role.

“On behalf of the innovative pharmaceutical industry in Australia I would like to wish Dr Hill well as she embarks on her new role at the WHO,” Mr James said.

“The role of the PBAC Chair is demanding and I would like to thank Dr Hill for her contribution and dedication.

“This is an important time for the industry and Australian patients, with many innovative new medicines both in development and about to be launched.

“The priority for the industry and the community is the timely listing of new and innovative medicines on the PBS. This relies on a collaborative, pragmatic and patient focused PBAC.

“Medicines Australia, patients and the pharmaceutical industry look forward to a smooth transition to a new PBAC Chair.”

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