The recent Australian Federal Budget has continued to highlight the importance of clinical trials in Australia, with the confirmation of a contribution of AU$9.9 million over five years to improve the clinical trials environment in Australia.

Broadly, the funds are to be used to implement the recommendations of the Clinical Trials Action Group (which were published in 2011), including:

  • the implementation of a standardised cost structure for clinical trials;
  • incorporation of clinical research needs into the e-health system which will allow access to de-identified data (to help identify optimal locations for trials), secure access to individual nominated records and remote access (which will be particularly useful for multi-centre trials);
  • the development of a national interactive clinical trials web portal;
  • improved conduct and approval processes for clinical trials; and
  • assisting the NHMRC to work with states, territories and other stakeholders to develop a nationally consistent approach to clinical trials.

The funding announced in the budget is a reiteration of what was announced in the Plan for Australian Jobs in February 2013.

The key to this will be whether it results in more clinical trials actually being conducted in Australia – Australia has long been regarded as an excellent location for clinical trials, particularly phase I studies.