PSF urges consumers not to panic

September 10, 2010

PSF urges consumers not to panic

Wednesday, September 08, 2010#,58241.asp~

Recent reports in the media about ‘exorbitant fees’ to be added to the price of medicines are largely unfounded. When the facts are examined, it becomes clear that the recently published draft regulations do in fact introduce transparency and fairness to the dispensing fee that may be charged by pharmacists.

Ivan Kotzé, joint co-ordinator of the Pharmacy Stakeholders Forum (PSF) explains that until now, there has been no statutory control over the dispensing fee charged by pharmacists. Traditionally, pharmacists charged a dispensing fee that was roughly 50% of the cost price of the medicine, which varied according to quantities bought. Many then discounted the fee, so that consumers were frequently uncertain about the actual fee that they had paid.

Cost price of medicine regulated

In 2004, the introduction of the Single Exit Price (SEP) regulated the cost price of medicine, so that all pharmacists paid the same price for medicines, and no discounting was permitted. In effect, the SEP reduced the cost price of medicine significantly, and brought transparency to the price that could be charged by manufacturers and wholesalers.

Simultaneously, there was an attempt to introduce a dispensing fee in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, Act 101 of 1965. This however did not come into operation as it was challenged in Court.

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2005 that the dispensing fee, which was to have been 26% of the Single Exit Price, but capped at a maximum of R26 per item, was inappropriate. “The income from this fee would not have covered the cost of running a pharmacy,” said KotzĂ©. “This is why the Constitutional Court instructed the Pricing Committee to re-examine the dispensing fee and to come up with a realistic fee.”

No evidence of pharmacists charging excessive fees

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(Pharmacy Stakeholders Forum, September 2010)

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