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Pharmaceutical Research And Development In NZ

30 May 2006

Pharmaceutical Research And Development In New Zealand On The Brink Of The Abyss

Pharmaceutical companies are abandoning research and development in New Zealand due to a lack of government support, potentially costing the country $100 million in lost investment, according to a report released today.

The report also says that New Zealand lags behind other developed countries in the amount of biomedical research being performed and should be attracting more than five times the current amount invested in new medicine research and development.

Entitled ‘Pharmaceutical Research and Development in New Zealand - On the Brink of the Abyss’ and commissioned by Pfizer New Zealand, the report suggests that the policies of the government pharmaceutical funding agency Pharmac are the single biggest reason for the withdrawal of private biomedical investment funding in this country.

Speaking at the Future of Medicines Policy Conference in Wellington today, Report author Dr Edward Watson said New Zealand has not attracted its “fair share” of pharmaceutical research and development.

“The Government has failed to take a broad view of the potential for the pharmaceutical industry to develop products in New Zealand. While Ministers frequently talk about the merits of New Zealand having more smart industries, it has effectively excluded pharmaceuticals from its much vaunted Growth and Innovation Framework (GIF).

“By leaving the pharmaceutical industry solely to Pharmac, which has a very narrow focus, the Government is denying New Zealand the opportunity to develop a medicines industry,” said Dr Watson.

Dr Watson said that clinical research is vitally important to the health system in New Zealand.

“It could be a major contributor to hospital cost control, it could help retain and develop some of our brightest and most able clinical researchers and it could help sustain the biomedical infrastructure,” he said.

“For New Zealand patients, being meaningfully engaged in new medicines research would potentially give them access to novel medicines years in advance of those medicines being routinely available,” he said.

Dr Watson said New Zealand patients have poor access to reimbursed new medicines compared to patients in Australia.

“New Zealand’s attempted compartmentalisation of healthcare costs, has alienated New Zealand from the vast investment resources of pharmaceutical companies at a time when those same companies are looking to partner outside of their historical base in the USA,” he said.

Most of the large pharmaceutical companies are based in the United States however, due to the high costs in the medical industry in America, there is a move to conduct research in other countries.

“A lack of understanding about how long term, effective partnerships in clinical research occur and an unwillingness to correct past mistakes means New Zealand’s biomedical environment is declining and not providing a supporting structure in which the high value biotechnology industry can flourish,” he said.

“Theoretically, New Zealand is the ideal place to conduct medical research in having a first world medical system, excellent investigators and the expertise and facilities needed to produce cost effective, high quality clinical research.

“However, since 1991 there has been little or no growth of private health R&D investment in this country,” said Dr Watson.

“For many pharmaceuticals companies conducting research, New Zealand is simply not on the radar because of the hostile business environment here,” he said.

Read the full report

  • Pharmaceutical Research and Development in NZ
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    About Dr Edward Watson

    Dr Edward Watson is a consultant working in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceutical development. Dr Watson is a qualified medical doctor who received his medical training in New Zealand and Australia and has practiced medicine in both countries. Dr Watson also has a master in business administration from Australia.

    Dr Watson worked as a medical director for Pharmacia before becoming a medical director for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals covering Australia and New Zealand based in Sydney.

    Since returning from Australia Dr Watson has worked as an independent consultant in the areas of new product development, clinical trial management and product commercialization for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.


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