New role for former TGA boss

3 minute read

Professor John Skerritt has been appointed to the Medicines Australia Board.

Eight months after retiring as head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Professor John Skerritt has been appointed to the Medicines Australia Board as an independent selected director. 

Medicines Australia Board chair, Dr Anna Lavelle AM, said she was “delighted” to have him join the organisation, to “provide strategic leadership, informed by decades of government experience, at a pivotal time for the pharmaceutical industry”.

“As a former Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care and former head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, John’s knowledge of the Australian therapeutics regulatory environment is unmatched,” she said.

“This expertise is critical as Australia seeks to harness the step change in technology and ensure that Australian patients have access to new innovative therapies as they become available.

“John’s deep understanding of government, and policy development and implementation, will be invaluable as Medicines Australia builds on the work undertaken to date with the Government on the reforms needed to speed up patient access to new medicines.”

Professor Skerritt said he was looking forward to working closely with the industry at this transformational time. 

“It is a tremendous honour to be joining the Board of Medicines Australia as an independent selected director,” he said.  

“The ability of innovative medicines to positively impact the lives of so many Australians drove me to choose this area as my university major some 45 years ago.

“In the same way it has been rewarding for me to support patient access to innovative medicines through leadership of Australia’s regulator over the last decade, I now look forward to working with Australia’s top leaders in the sector through this new board role.”  

Professor Skerritt officially started in the new role on 4 December.

It’s not his first gig since he officially left the TGA in April this year after more than 10 years in the job.

Speaking to The Medical Republic’s Cate Swannell for TMR’s Tea Room podcast ahead of his retirement from the TGA, he said he had “ended up on about 10 different advisory committees to government and universities”.

“I’ve got a number of adjunct positions. I’m doing an awful lot of stuff on building the messenger RNA framework in Australia, both therapeutics and vaccines,” he said.

“We’ve all had the success of covid vaccines, but the question is what comes next?”

Professor Skerritt also reflected on his time at the TGA and revealed he was proud of the work it had done during his tenure.

“The biggest thing is that we’ve systematically been able to transform a regulatory system that’s now also a lot more accessible to patients and to doctors,” he said.

“We now get 87,500 phone and email inquiries from the public, from healthcare professionals and from industry, a year and we’re able to help a lot of people with their medications and so forth.

“Apart from still doing what regulators do and checking products, we have also expanded our role in public health dramatically, both in terms of communication around products and compliance and enforcement in enabling access to some of these experimental new therapies.

“The other thing we did was totally rework the medicines and medical devices regulatory framework. Now we have priority, provisional, other pathways that can get those medicines to patients much earlier.”

Professor Tony Lawler, the former chief medical officer and deputy secretary of Clinical Quality, Regulation and Accreditation with the Tasmanian Department of Health, was appointed to replace Professor Skerritt at the TGA.

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