Summary by Millie Dwyer, Student Intern
This BioMelbourne Network BioBreakfast event hosted at St Vincent’s launched the Victorian Clinical Trials Gateway and discussed Victoria’s clinical trial landscape. The event explored Victoria’s strengths and weaknesses in this field, inspiring discussion as to how our clinical trial landscape can improve.
Through a discussion with expert panellists, this event highlighted Victoria’s strengths in clinical trials – proving it is a strong competitor in this field. Strengths include:
• Speed: due to simplified regulatory processes, Victoria is a preferred destination for early phase trials. International companies capitalise on this speed by conducting their trials in Victoria and Australia.
• Funding: through the Research & Development Tax Incentive, the government supports clinical trials by providing companies with tax offsets.
• Science precincts: Melbourne is home to some of the largest clinical clusters, including the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct and the Clayton Innovation Cluster. This boosts efficiency, accessibility and collaboration.
Equally important was the discussion of Victoria’s weaknesses in the clinical trial landscape. There are numerous bottlenecks that threatens to stagnate Victoria’s growth that must be addressed, including:
• Lack of State harmonisation: Australian states can function differently in clinical trials due to independent state policy and funding. This stunts efficiency and created barriers for states to work collaboratively. To combat this disconnection, the Victoria Clinical Trials Gateway has been launched to foster greater connectivity.
• Skills shortage: Whilst there are well developed clinical clusters, some specialized skills are scarce. A potential solution is to increase funding towards student internship programs (such as the IQVIA graduate program), and professionalising already skilled nurses and clinical trials workforce through apprenticeships or accreditation.
• Promotion: The international promotion of Victoria’s clinical trials capability is not strategically co-ordinated. Also, there is a lack awareness of clinical trial participation in the general population in Victoria, Whilst overseas competitors have specific offices to promote clinical trials, Victoria does not. Clinicians can also be encouraged to continue to promote Victoria’s clinical trials, to industry partners when presenting at international conferences and also when talking to their own patients here in Victoria.
• The pace of technology: Ensuring that Victoria has information technology infrastructure to fully leverage electronic medical records and health data to support clinical trials.
Overall Victoria has a strong and growing clinical trials capability, which is attractive for both local and international companies undertaking clinical development programs. However, we need to continue to develop strategies to maintain our competitive advantage in the area of global clinical trials.