'A victory for consumers'
FROM January 1 pharmacists will no longer charge what they feel is right but what is stipulated by the pharmaceutical pricing regulation.
The recommended professional fees for pharmacies were published in the Government Gazette last Friday.
The price guide shows the minimum and maximum costs for services rendered by pharmacies. Any pharmacy caught charging more than that will have to answer to the South African Pharmacy Council.
"This is a breakthrough for consumers," SAPC registrar Amos Masango said.
"Consumers will now know what service they are getting from the pharmacist and how much they would be charged before hand.
"Pharmacies would be obliged to place a notice of what services they offer, at what cost. This will then help consumers to know when they are being overcharged," Masango said.
In the past the SAPC had received numerous complaints from consumers who believed they were overcharged. Most of these cases did not end in the consumers' favour because there was no policy on professional fees for pharmacists.
"One of the reasons why the professional fees for pharmacists were formulated was to curb the overcharging by many pharmacies. We had to create uniformity in the pricing structure and thus create transparency. Pharmacists will have no choice but to charge a fee not above the maximum stipulated by the council," Masango said.
"A consumer can lodge a complaint with the council, which we will investigate. All stakeholders, including medical aid schemes, are happy with the fees."