Consumers are being placed at risk from harmful counterfeit medicines because of stretched resources made worse by Coalition Budget cuts.
Lateline reported last night that the Therapeutic Goods Administration is set to axe senior investigative staff at a time when more and more counterfeit medicines are being sold in Australia.
The industry has been emphasising the need for post-market surveillance and closer monitoring of new medicines and potentially dangerous counterfeit medicines. But right now TGA workers are warning that they may not have the capacity to counter organised criminal elements peddling dangerous counterfeit medicines.
Even though confidential health department files warn of a growing public health risk from fake medicines the Government has remained asleep at the wheel. Budget cuts have stripped up to $8 million from the TGA since last year with more cuts set to come (see Table 7.8).
This follows warnings from the TGA’s Professor John Skeritt during Senate Estimates hearings in June last year that “…the department's appropriation to TGA is a very modest one” that only covers a fraction of the regulatory body’s vital work.
The regulation of the production and supply of medicines is not only critical from a health perspective - it matters a lot for our trade. There has been an explosion in demand for Australian complementary medicines and it's all because of the strength of “Brand TGA”.
People know our medicines are manufactured to the highest standards and the contents of the bottle always match the label. If the Turnbull Government lets this slide there is billions in export earnings at risk.
The Government must ensure that the TGA has the resources available to get on with the job and keep Australian consumers safe from dangerous counterfeit medicines.
This is yet another opportunity for Malcolm Turnbull to disassociate himself from the Abbott agenda, which was to question the value of TGA and hack away at its funding.