Federal health minister Greg Hunt visited Bunbury Regional Hospital on Thursday morning to tour a new pathology centre.
The federal government provided $4.8 million for the redevelopment of the pathology centre into a state-of-the-art testing facility which is triple the size of the hospital’s previous centre.
Touring the facility with Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino, Mr Hunt said the new labs provided better access to diagnosis and health outcomes.
“We are proud to be supporting hospital and our investment here in Bunbury has resulted in a magnificent facility,” he said.
“The federal government is keen to invest in medical research and Nola Marino was very passionate in ensuring this facility received investment because we both know the labs here will help to save and protect lives.”
The pair also met with pharmacists to discuss new policies in the 2017/18 federal budget that will benefit medical professions.
The budget flagged the government’s intention to generate $1.8 billion in savings over five years through price reforms in the Pharmaaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Mr Hunt said the government are working to lower the costs of medications already on the PBS with the savings to be reinvested in pharmacy initiatives.
”There are currently more than 5,200 drugs on the PBS and hopefully the price will drop from them in the coming years,” he said.
Mr Hunt was asked about the progress of having cystic fibrosis medication Orkambi added to the PBS, a cause that has been passionately supported in recent years by Bunbury mother Taryn Barrett.
“There is a push for the company who manufacture Orkambi to have test results submitted to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee for review and I am hopeful in the near future we can have it approved,” he said.
“The lovely Barrett family and Nola are both keen to see this happen as soon as possible.”
Clinical trials of Orkambi to date have provided solid evidence of improved lung function and reduced hospitalisation in patients aged 12 years and older.
Since May 1, Kalydeco, a drug that treats cystic fibrosis in young children, has been listed on the PBS. This move has dropped the price of treatment from $300,000 per year to $6.30 for all concessional patients and $38.80 for general patients.