Prime Minister Tony Abbott says strong safeguards will prevent the government’s new $20 billion medical research fund being used as a honeypot by the pharmaceutical industry.
The Medical Research Future Fund was one of the main features of last week’s federal budget, with its funding to come from a new Medicare co-payment and other savings to hospital and health spending.
By 2023 it will distribute $1 billion a year to medical research, making it the biggest fund of its type in the world.
Asked how the federal government would stop the fund being used as a “honeypot” by the pharmaceutical industry, Mr Abbott said the money would go into a “locked box” beyond the reach of politicians.
“It will be administered by the Future Fund Board of Guardians, and it will be untouchable by government in the same way that the Future Fund is untouchable by government,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Disbursement of the money will be determined by the independent National Health and Medical Research Council, he said.
“That has a very long and strong reputation as a guardian of good research,” he said.