In a survey of their membership, the PMA has confirmation from all members that they are adhering to their published single exit prices [SEPs] until such time as the legal challenges to the regulations have been concluded, the organisation said.
A single exit price is the maximum a manufacturer may charge for medicine if the government's recently introduced but now disputed amendments to medicine-pricing laws are applied. The end user should only pay a dispensing fee on that price and no other profits should be made.
The PMA said it hoped that the effect of the SEP system was to reduce the ex-manufacturer cost of medicine by 20% in the first year, amounting to a saving of R2,5-billion.
We expected that our members would remain committed to their published SEPs in the interests of the consumer and in the interests of stability in the market place during this period of uncertainty. We are gratified that our membership survey has shown this assumption to be correct, Guni Goolab, president of the PMA, said.
Full implementation of the pricing regulations was required by August 2004. The regulations were subsequently challenged in the Cape High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) by pharmacists, including the
PMA. The decision of the SCA to set aside the regulations is being challenged by the Department of Health and the application for leave to appeal is scheduled to be considered by the Constitutional Court on March 15 this year.
The SEP is calculated through a formula contained in regulations relating to the Medicines and Related Substances Act. It is audited and may only be changed after consultation with the Department of Health.
The PMA is currently working on a project to have all its members' SEPs on its website, and the Department of Health has commissioned the development of a website containing all SEPs in South Africa.
In the meantime, customers can obtain SEPs from their pharmacists or by calling the manufacturer.
(Source: Mail & Guardian, February 3, 2005)