25 March 2024

Government appoints experts as new chairs of two medical advisory committees

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Federal Health Minister Mark Butler welcomed the appointments of Professor Robyn Ward as chair of the PBAC and Professor Jonathan Craig as chair of the MSAC. Photo: Mark Butler/Facebook.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has announced the appointment of two esteemed medical advisers from next month to committees that advise government on funding medicines, medical services, health programs and patient technologies.

The appointees are cancer researcher and medical oncologist Professor Robyn Ward as chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), and paediatric nephrologist and clinical epidemiologist Professor Jonathan Craig as chair of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

Professor Ward has been appointed for a four-year term from 5 May, 2024, and will take over from Professor Andrew Wilson, who is retiring as PBAC chair after nine years in the role.

Professor Ward has served as chair of MSAC since 2009 and was a previous member of the PBAC. She is also the executive dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, and has extensive experience in health technology assessment.

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PBAC members include doctors, health professionals, health economists and consumer representatives. The committee’s primary role is to recommend new medicines for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and no new medicine can be listed unless the committee makes a positive recommendation.

Professor Craig will take over as MSAC chair from 1 April, 2024, for a four-year term, succeeding Professor Ward in the role.

Professor Craig is vice-president and executive dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University. His research has focused on improving the health of people with chronic kidney disease, children, and the health and wellbeing of First Nations people.

Professor Kwun Fong and Associate Professor Sarah Norris have been appointed as co-deputy chairs of MSAC.

The MSAC is an independent non-statutory committee established by the Australian Government in 1998. Its role is to appraise new medical services proposed for public funding, and provide advice to government on whether a new medical service should be publicly funded.

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The appointments were made following an expression-of-interest process conducted by the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Minister Butler welcomed the appointments.

“I welcome the appointment of Professor Ward as chair of PBAC,” he said. “She is eminently qualified to lead the PBAC and deliver the advice needed to ensure the PBS delivers equitable and timely access to effective and cost-effective medicines for Australians.

“I also welcome the appointment of Professor Craig as chair of MSAC. He brings a wealth of clinical and research experience to the MSAC.

“The advice of PBAC and MSAC is critical to ensuring Australians can access the medicines, medical services, health technologies and health programs they need.

“The government also thanks Professor Andrew Wilson for his leadership and service to the PBAC.”

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