Paving way for cheaper medicines

21 August 2003

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang this week announced the appointment of a Medicines Pricing Committee in terms of the Medicines Control Amendment Act to to assist in bringing about a more transparent pricing system for medicines in the country.

Cape Town University health economist Diane McIntyre will chair the committee, which comprises economists and individuals with experience in the pharmaceutical industry, knowledge of the laws affecting the industry, and broader experience of the health care system.

The committee’s functions will include:

  • Introducing a transparent pricing system, including a single “exit price” for all medicines and scheduled substances.
  • Determining an appropriate dispensing fee to be charged by pharmacists or any person licensed to do so in terms of the Act.
  • Determining an appropriate fee to be charged by wholesalers or distributors or any person selling medicines that do not require a prescription.

The other members are: Basheer Vally from the private sector; Competition Commission chairman Menzi Simelane; health department chief director for legal affairs Debbie Pearmain; Prof David Henry, an Australian consultant; Dr Micheal Thiede from the University of Cape Town’s health economics unit; Dr Aslam Dasoo, former chairman of the Board of Healthcare Funders; Siza Njikelane; Prof Indhrasen Moodley; Shadrack Shuping; and the health department’s chief director for pharmacy policy and planning, Dr Humphrey Zokufa.

The members will serve for an initial two-year period, but the Act allows for their term of office to be extended for up to five years. Four more members are yet to be appointed, with nominations from the department of trade and industry and the National Treasury still to be confirmed.

“We have a well-balanced committee, with the range of skills we were after”, Tshabalala-Msimang said.

“I will be relying on their expert advice in exercising the powers conferred on me by the Act. We have dreamed about the moment when we would put this Act to work to secure medicines at affordable prices. And the appointment of the committee brings us very close to that goal.”

Among the powers conferred on the minister by the Act is to authorise parallel importation of a drug when the identical product is available at a better price.

Source: BuaNews

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