Generating Real-World Evidence on the Quality Use, Benefits and Safety of Medicines in Australia: History, Challenges and a Roadmap for the Future.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021, 18, (24), pp. 1-20
Issue Date:
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Australia spends more than $20 billion annually on medicines, delivering significant health benefits for the population. However, inappropriate prescribing and medicine use also result in harm to individuals and populations, and waste of precious health resources. Medication data linked with other routine collections enable evidence generation in pharmacoepidemiology; the science of quantifying the use, effectiveness and safety of medicines in real-world clinical practice. This review details the history of medicines policy and data access in Australia, the strengths of existing data sources, and the infrastructure and governance enabling and impeding evidence generation in the field. Currently, substantial gaps persist with respect to cohesive, contemporary linked data sources supporting quality use of medicines, effectiveness and safety research; exemplified by Australia's limited capacity to contribute to the global effort in real-world studies of vaccine and disease-modifying treatments for COVID-19. We propose a roadmap to bolster the discipline, and population health more broadly, underpinned by a distinct capability governing and streamlining access to linked data assets for accredited researchers. Robust real-world evidence generation requires current data roadblocks to be remedied as a matter of urgency to deliver efficient and equitable health care and improve the health and well-being of all Australians.
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