Date published: 
3 September 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

3 September 2018



E&OE…



Topics: Honey; Orkambi listed on the PBS for cystic fibrosis patients; medications for rheumatoid arthritis and ADHD listed on the PBS.



LEON BYNER:

Let’s welcome the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. And Greg, before I talk about the PBS, what’s your take on this very big breaking story today that much of the honey we’re buying in the supermarket may be not what we think it is and secondly could have other- lots of sugars and heavy metals inside?



GREG HUNT:

Look, I think it’s absolutely critical that we know what’s in our food and that, more than that, it’s completely safe. So I will make sure that this is referred off to FSANZ, which is the Food Safety Authority, and I’ll make sure that happens this morning. It would be great if there are any listeners who wanted to submit anything to me. If they just want to send something to me at greg.hunt.mp, greg.hunt.mp@...



LEON BYNER:

greg.hunt.mp.



GREG HUNT:

@aph.gov.au.



LEON BYNER:

@aph.gov.au.



GREG HUNT:

Yeah. And so I’ll make sure that we do a referral this morning. I want to be cautious about the facts because I’ve only heard of this today, but we have to have safety and we have to have certainty.



LEON BYNER:

Yeah look, good on you for doing that because the industry itself is afraid to discuss it because by doing so, they think that it’ll turn people off honey. I would argue no it won’t, the customer just wants to buy real honey, not something that is supposed to be, might be cheaper, or the same price as the good stuff but isn’t.



GREG HUNT:

Look I’m fortunate because I have in my electorate Peninsula Honey. And so, I know as a family we tend to literally buy, virtually, shall we say, straight from the bee. In our own electorate.



LEON BYNER:

Well let me tell you, you’re not making a mistake because according to what I’ve been told a few minutes ago, when honey is taken straight from the hive, like you’re talking about, it doesn’t spike insulin, blood sugar or triglycerides, so there is a health benefit. So good on you for doing that.



Now look, I want to discuss some good news today. There is a landmark cystic fibrosis medicine that used to cost, what, $40,000. It’s now going to be available for $39.50.



GREG HUNT:

Look, even more than that, the drug is called Orkambi and it was up to $250,000 a year. And so this will help 1200 families, 1200 beautiful young kids or young adults, and virtually no family could ever afford it and (inaudible) the thing that will change their lives.



I met kids, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison met kids yesterday who are not on the medicine, but as of this week should be able to access it on a compassionate basis before it’s listed on 1 October. And I may never be involved with something that’s more important in my time and I know for Scott, he just looked at me and said this is why we do what we do and it’s why we have to have a strong economy.



LEON BYNER:

Now, this product is called Orkambi. There would be a few that would know about it. So what does it do?



GREG HUNT:

So what it does is it helps halt the deterioration of lung function in cystic fibrosis. So cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition which leads to the deterioration of lung function and it means that people literally struggle to breath, shortens life expectancy and it slows that and in many cases it increases (inaudible). I met one mum whose daughter had been on a trial and had had a 17 per cent improvement.



And as well as that, we’ve also opened the door for Australia to be one of the countries with the earliest access to the next generation of new medicine, which will be even more powerful. So we help kids now, but we also give them a pathway two or three years down the track to something that’s fundamentally life changing as well. So it’s one of those days where you think this is why you do it and it’s probably been hundreds of hours of work. But that’s not the point. So many people have worked so hard to get this medicine, which will now literally be in the hands of parents and kids from this week and change their lives.



LEON BYNER:

I want to talk about another medicine here, a different type. We have in Australia about 400,000 who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and there is a product called Olumiant that's coming onto the market but it's also an ADHD treatment. Can you explain what this particular drug does?



GREG HUNT:

Yeah. So, we actually have two different drugs here. One is the rheumatoid arthritis medicine and that’s going to help a proportion of those who have rheumatoid arthritis. So, of the 400,000, we think 22,000 who have extreme forms are likely to have a huge benefit and it’ll help with the lining of joints and reduction of inflammation, reduction of pain, reduction of swelling and this should be a $16,500 a year medicine and it’s now $39.50 or $6.40 per script.



And then secondly, there’s an ADHD medicine, which – so, attention deficit disorder - and that’s going to help about 147,000 patients and that would have been almost $2000 a year and also down to those same prices. So for parents, without having the side effect overwhelmingly of some of the other medicines that are in the community, this will make just such a huge difference to help the concentration, brain function, attention and control of impulse.



LEON BYNER:

Look, I just want to clear the air on one issue about hospital funding. This financial year, how much extra is South Australia going to get specifically targeted for hospitals?



GREG HUNT:

So each year, every year, there's an increase in hospital funding. We've been going up by some tens of millions of dollars every year. I’ll come back and give you the exact figure off the air, for South Australia. But we've also got, as a result of the Marshall government signing on, well over $1 billion additional funding for South Australia as part of the new hospital agreement over a five-year period.



So they've opened up more than a billion dollars, tens of millions of dollars alone in just this year before the new agreement begins. And they've been tremendous in just being very practical, and saying the previous government wouldn’t accept your money, we sure will because we want more patients to have more access to hospital bed.



LEON BYNER:

Look, one question I need to ask you and I've got Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister, on a bit later this morning. But as a senior minister, you must be disappointed that there's some very serious leaking going on against the new government.



GREG HUNT:

Look, I think our focus is to get on with trying to do things and that’s overwhelmingly the focus of the government. I was with Scott yesterday for this announcement of the cystic fibrosis medicine Orkambi. That's what he was focused on.



So you always hope that everybody is focused on the outcomes and that's what we're doing to get a strong economy. We then get to deliver the medicines, we know that the previous Labor government wasn’t able to do either of those and that's where our focus is and that's where mine will continue to bank.



LEON BYNER:

Well, I still want you to make a comment because you are a minister. You'd surely be disappointed that there are people within the government who are deliberately leaking against you.



GREG HUNT:

Well I would always hope that everyone, everyone will focus on a very stable, unified government, which ultimately allows you to deliver those outcomes to the economy and the medicine.



And so for me, I would, as I say, hope that everyone will make sure that their priority is looking forward and that's what I think will happen overwhelmingly. There's always some sadness, disappointment but my message would be, focus on the future because at the end of the day, we can deliver things for the Australian people that will reduce their cost of living and improve their quality of life.



LEON BYNER:

And is it still May that you expect an election because there's speculation it could be earlier?



GREG HUNT:

Look, we're all planning on a full-term government. You'll have to have a chat with Scott this morning on that but I don't think his focus has changed. And everything that I’ve (inaudible) publicly and privately is on the idea of a full-term government, which would take us through until the middle of next year.



LEON BYNER:

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, thank you for joining us today.



(ENDS)


Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.