Young Australians fighting rare and deadly cancers will receive better access to potentially life-saving clinical trials under a re-elected Turnbull Coalition Government.

This announcement is a core pillar of our broader $7 million Encouraging More Clinical Trials policy, officially launched today, which is aimed at protecting the health of the nation, as well as driving jobs and growth by cementing Australia as a world-class place to invest in clinical trials.

It is estimated there are up to 800 adolescent and young adults every year that are diagnosed with cancers that would benefit from access to clinical trials.

However, currently, only seven per cent of 16-19 year olds and four per cent of 20-24 year olds enrol in a clinical trial in Australia. This is compared with 45 per year of younger children.

This is because adolescent and young adult patients are typically too old to participate in paediatric clinical trials and too young to participate in adult clinical trials.

The Coalition has a plan to change this.

A re-elected Turnbull Coalition Government will act to specifically remove barriers for adolescents and young adult cancer patients in accessing clinical trials for anti-cancer therapies:

  • The Coalition will work with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to remove current age restrictions on trials which can sometimes apply in children’s or adult hospitals to increase access for adolescents and young adults.
  • The Coalition will also support demonstration trials to show the world Australia has the ability to successfully run world-class trials for adolescents and young adult patients that will attract industry partnerships in future trials.
  • Using existing cancer networks, the Coalition will focus on identifying and recruiting eligible patients in this age group with rare and highly lethal cancers.
  • Streamlining the recruitment process will make it easier and faster for industry to commence trials for rare cancers in this age group, making Australia a more attractive destination to conduct world-leading trials.

Our commitment will ensure hundreds of adolescents and young adult cancer patients will have immediate access to cutting-edge anti-cancer treatments and embed clinical trials processes into standard adolescents and young adult care bringing more clinical trials and more investment to Australia.

Clinical trials make a positive contribution to our health and to our economy, with up to 1,000 new clinical trials adding around $1 billion in new investment each year.

Other actions a re-elected Turnbull Government will undertake to improve access to clinical trials for all Australians include:

  • instituting a national approach that will cut cross-border red tape threatening large-scale trials;
  • embedding dedicated clinical trial specialists in key hospital and research networks to ensure trials are run efficiently and to the highest quality standards; and
  • making it easier for patients and researchers to match up with each other via mobile, smart-technology platforms.