Topics: Launch of the Helping Our Health awareness campaign to get more Australians to participate in clinical trial.
I’m delighted to be here today at the amazing VCCC and Peter Mac. This is a national treasure and Peter Mac is about saving lives and protecting lives. Clinical trials are about saving lives and protecting lives. To have Ian Frazer, one of Australia’s great medical researchers and clinicians, here today, whose work led to the development of Gardasil and has helped save lives of so many women, prevent cervical cancer and the new Gardasil 9 has now been introduced into our schools.
My daughter’s a 13-year-old, and this year has been part of that program. So your work translates to our lives. Anne Kelso, the head of the National Health and Medical Research Council – and I will hold it, but I’ve got a very positive announcement to make later today about Anne which will make her and everybody else very happy but Anne’s doing an amazing job.
And Jarryd Roughead. And Jarryd is obviously a great footballer, a great leader on the field, a four-time premiership player, Coleman medallist, and his career is far from over. I think he’s got aspirations for more of those medals on either side. But however good Jarryd is on the field, he’s been even better off the field. He was obviously faced with a very frightening and real diagnosis, and he is the face of our Helping Our Health clinical trials awareness program, because he has been through clinical trials, and those clinical trials have given him the capacity to lead off the field and to be back on the field.
And his prognosis is clean and clear, and to everybody here at the VCCC and Peter Mac, to Mark and Grant and so many of you, thank you. But to give somebody such as Jarryd a clear future and there could be no stronger demonstration than what he’s able to do back on the field, is to say to all Australians – clinical trials can save your life, they can protect your life, and they can give every Australian access to new and better medicines. Jarryd, do you want to talk a little bit about your story and what the trials have meant to you?
Two years ago, I was obviously diagnosed with a few spots on my lungs, and Grant here said that there was some new clinical trials that were looking very positive, and obviously when you listen to a man of- Grant and how well-respected he is, obviously your life’s in his hands a little bit, so when he’s suggesting these things you go with it. And I was in this building two years ago having treatments every three weeks and going through the clinical trials, which, at the end of the day, has led me to still be here today.
Great. Professor Grant McArthur?
Jarryd’s story is a remarkable story. Faced with advanced melanoma, went on a new treatment, evidence was still building for that treatment and had a complete response very rapidly. And it was a new immune therapy which is revolutionising the treatment of cancer, led here at the Peter Mac and elsewhere nationally. These new treatments are really saving lives, but we still need more evidence and we still need to test these in more diseases, more cancers, and so I encourage everyone to get involved in clinical trials – critical to save more lives.
Thank you, Minister, and good morning. It’s very important to the Government and through the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Medical Research Future Fund that we support clinical trials around the country. It’s an extraordinarily important way not only to test new drugs but also to look at whether the procedures we use day-to-day in the clinic are the best for patients. So, clinical trials are just crucial to improving healthcare. So we’re also delighted that the Minister today is announcing the campaign, because we want to encourage people around the country to participate in clinical trials for the improvement of human health.
And then Ian Frazer.
Thank you, Minister. Clinical trials and participation in clinical trials are one of the best measures of the quality of a health system and the larger the participation in clinical trials, the better the health system is. And in Australia, we do extremely well in that area. We have the great fortune now to have the Medical Research Future Fund. I chair the board that advises the Minister about this. And one of the first areas that I was keen to see more activity in was in the funding of clinical trials, because we know that that’s how we advance health and medical care – through research. It’s really nice to be able to say that we are contributing even more funding for clinical trials if we want patients to participate in these, we want the general public to realise that participation in clinical trials is the way that health moves forward.
So look, I’ll just finish up. The Helping Our Health campaign is about helping your health. What it says to patients is if you have a condition and if your doctor or specialist believes that it’s appropriate, participate in a clinical trial. It can make the difference, it can save your life, it can save the lives of others who benefit from the medicine and Australia can and should be a global leader in clinical trials. Thank you.