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Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturing – a matter of life and death!

March 24, 2020

An announcement was made yesterday that mining billionaire Clive Palmer, has decided to fund the manufacture and/or supply of Hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is reportedly showing some promising results in the fight against COVID-19. This got us thinking about Australia’s pharmaceutical security when it comes to not only manufacturing our own medicines, but how reliant we are on the global supply chain.


Palmer cites the importance of having a stockpile of essential medicines available for all Australians;

“I will do what it takes to get 1 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine for Australians to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst the trials are ongoing, we need stockpiles ready to use here and capability to manufacture in Australia to protect all Australians as soon as possible.

We need to do this to help make a difference for all Australians and protect our future for our people”

Our research on this topic led us to a number of sources that go into finite detail of the state of Australia’s pharmaceutical supply, and the news isn’t good!

The report also states that in 2018 Australia imported US$8.33B of pharmaceuticals, comprising over 90% of the medicine consumed in our country.

A report published in February 2020 by the Institute for Integrated Economics Research, has highlighted issues with Australia’s supply chain for medicines and other pharmaceuticals. The report states:

  • Australia accounts for only 2% of the global pharmaceutical market and imports over 90% of medicines. At times there may not be enough of a specific medicine in the Australian marketplace leading to potential weaknesses in supply.
  • Medicine shortages have become an increasing problem over recent years. The cause of medicine shortages is a complex and diverse interaction of many factors. Some medicines imported to Australia are only manufactured at one location, even if they are supplied by many companies. Other medicines may be manufactured in multiple locations but supplied by only one company.
  • This makes Australia particularly vulnerable to medicine shortages arising from factors outside our control . These factors can include manufacturing problems, difficulties in procurement, political instabilities, pandemics, another global economic crisis and a range of natural disasters.

It would seem that we are now experiencing the worst case scenario of a global pandemic, off the back of several natural disasters, and we can only hope that Australia’s much needed medical supplies are plentiful. While hospitals and medical providers are working their hardest to keep the Australian Coronavirus mortality rates down, all attempts will be in vain if the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies required to treat COVID-19 run out, and then, are not available due to a shortage within the global supply chain.

The recent unprecedented events we’ve experienced, clearly demonstrate the importance of Australia developing a strong local manufacturing industry. Regardless of industry vertical, whether it be pharmaceutical, automotive, FMCG or widgets; the future security of our nation and economy will depend on Australia being able to stand on its own 2 feet.

When the dust settles from this pandemic, and we look at what will be a new Australia, with a new astronomical level of government debt; we will need to focus on providing a prosperous future for our children and those who have lost their jobs & businesses and suffered hardships as a result of recent events. Most importantly, we also need to ensure that Australia can protect itself from any future unprecedented events without having to rely on other countries to do it!

Hopefully our government will now see a need to act and reinvigorate our manufacturing industry. Australia needs to ensure that in the future, we are not simply waiting in a line within the global supply chain, but rather, an integral part of that global supply chain.

 

TAGS Australian Manufacturing Opinion by Australian Engineers Pharmaceutical

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