Dispensing fees could lead to the closure of pharmacies

Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

Pharmacies could face closure because of dispensing regulations coming into effect in January, say United South African Pharmacies (USAP).

Speaking at a meeting held in Johannesburg earlier this week, USAP chairman Julian Solomon said the new regulations would lead to many pharmacies having to close down.

Management Healthcare System director David Boyce said the Department of Health's Pricing Committee did not take inflation into account.

He said the implementation of the regulations would lead to pharmacies not being able to cover their expenses.

Under the tariffs announced on October 31, the dispensing fee for medicines with a single exit price (SEP) of R75 would be R4 plus 33 percent of the SEP, while 64 percent of medicines fell under this bracket, Boyce said. The fee on medicines costing between R75 and R250 would be R25 plus 6 percent; between R250 and R1000, R33 plus 3 percent; and R1000 and more, R50 plus 1,5percent of the SEP.

Boyce said that of 2467 pharmacies polled, 63 percent of them would fail, 22percent were "likely to survive", and 15 percent were at risk of failing.

"A casualty rate whereby operating expenses exceeded operational income would occur," Boyce said.

According to Ivan Kotze, executive director of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa, a letter to the Health Department had been written to "defer" the implementation of the regulations.

Solomon added that at least six towns were without pharmaceutical services, and that affordability and availability of medication was important. - With Sapa