Pharmacists outraged

South Africans were witnessing the destruction of their country's pharmaceutical services, United South African Pharmacies (USAP) charged yesterday.

South Africans were witnessing the destruction of their country's pharmaceutical services, United South African Pharmacies (USAP) charged yesterday.

The Health Department's new medicines-pricing regulations were "inherently flawed" and would have a "disastrous" effect when they came into effect in January, claimed USAP chairman Julian Solomon.

The regulations would result in the closure of most pharmacies, he said, adding that staff were being retrenched.

"The infrastructure that has been built up over decades is disintegrating. We have no choice but to go to court."

USAP, the Pharmaceutical Society of SA and the SA Progressive Pharmacists' Association filed an urgent application in the Pretoria high court on Monday in which they challenged the regulations.

Solomon claimed it cost pharmacies more to dispense medicines than the regulations provided for.

"If we go out of business because of the new fee, it will not be due to inefficiency but because of insufficiency."

Pharmacies expenses were higher than the Health Department's estimates, he said, because running a business was costly, especially taking into account rent and salaries.

He said 56percent of pharmacy posts in the state sector were vacant but there were as many openings in the private sector.

"Consumers will lose out in the long run, after enjoying the temporary benefit of low prices. - Sapa

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