Government commits $25m to medicine safety research

The federal Government will invest $25 million in research to improve the safe use of medicines and medicines intervention by pharmacists.

Announcing the funding on World Pharmacists Day (25 September) last week, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the grant opportunity would be financed by the Medical Research Future Fund and was about promoting medicine safety.

‘[The grant] is part of the government’s significant ongoing investments aimed at improving access to medicines and the safe use of medicines in the community,’ he said.

The PSA’s National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said research undertaken through the funding would go a long way to improving the health of Australians.

‘The intended outcome of the research grant opportunity is to reduce the amount of medicine-related harm in the community and help promote the safe and effective use of medicines,’ he said.

The PSA has long advocated for this, including in its Medicine safety: take care report, released last year, which showed that 250,000 Australians are hospitalised each year as a result of medication error, misuse and misadventure. A further 400,000 people present to emergency departments for the same reasons.

It also called for the development and maintenance of a research culture across the pharmacist profession in its Pharmacists in 2023 report, ‘to ensure a robust evidence base for existing and future pharmacist programs’.

‘A pharmacy practice research agenda needs to be developed in partnership with emerging and established researchers, academics, practising pharmacists, funders and consumers to address unmet needs and evidence gaps,’ the report states.

The funding announcement follows federal, state and territory health ministers declaring Medicine Safety and the Quality Use of Medicines as the 10th National Health Priority Area in November last year.

‘The Health Minister’s commitment to PSA to progress the National Health Priority Area included progressing research initiatives that would seek to improve medicines safety and the quality use of medicines,’ A/Prof Freeman said. 

‘This continues the commitment that successive governments have had through Community Pharmacy Agreements to continue to encourage and foster innovation in the role of pharmacists.

‘I encourage all PSA members in academia and research who are involved in practice research to collaborate and submit proposals for these grants.’

The first round of funding for the Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists grant will allocate $13 million to support medical research and innovation projects and will open on 6 October.