Spinemed Australia Pty Ltd
The Hon. HENRY TSANG: Will the Treasurer, and Minister for State Development inform the House about how the New South Wales Government is assisting the international development of New South Wales-based medical technology companies?
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: Thank God for Henry! If it were not for the Hon. Henry Tsang I do not think I would get any questions in this House. I cannot recall getting as few questions from an Opposition in one year as I have this year. In the whole year I have had four questions from the Opposition.
The Hon. Patricia Forsythe: That was four too many.
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: The honourable member says "four too many". It is an appalling situation. It is very boring sitting here without being asked any questions. I am pleased to inform the House about the Kogarah-based medical technology company Spinemed Australia Pty Ltd.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: That's what you've got.
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: Spinemed will not be much use to the honourable member because he does not have a spine. For every 1,000 people in Australia there are more than 330 new back injuries each year. The direct cost to the Australian health care system due to disorders of the spine was $1.2 billion in 2001, a 60 per cent increase on 1994. Indirect costs in Australia, including absenteeism, were estimated in 2001 at between $4.5 billion and $7.5 billion. That is why Spinemed's minimally invasive surgical treatment for back pain is an important breakthrough.
Spinemed is working to manufacture a spinal disc replacement device which aims to relieve pain and restore movement to people suffering chronic back pain. The Spinemed device will offer earlier and safer intervention with shorter recovery times for millions of sufferers. Spinemed is headed by Dr Ashish Diwan, who is a PhD graduate from the University of New South Wales, the chief of spine services at St George Hospital at Kogarah and a lecturer with the department of orthopaedic surgery at the University of New South Wales.
The Government has also been supporting this pioneering research through its BioFirst Proof of Concept Program. New South Wales support has included assistance with a business plan and access to domestic and international investment opportunities, including the MedTechInsight Conference in San Francisco last June. Following its presentation at MedTechInsight, Spinemed fielded inquiries from more than a dozen parties that are interested in investing or partnering. Dr Diwan writes that the support he has received from the New South Wales Department of State and Regional Development has "provided Spinemed with a very cost-effective opportunity to launch the company globally." He goes on to state:
The support … has accelerated Spinemed's growth by spotlighting it on an international stage, enhancing its appeal, and directly connecting the company with international investors and potential partners internationally."
Spinemed is a further indication of New South Wales's prominent role in the medical technology industry, and I wish it success in all its endeavours. I thank the Hon. Henry Tsang for his question.