The effect of the judgement is that the regulated single exit price and the
dispensing fee are no longer in operation. The pharmacist may now charge a fee
that will cover the costs of dispensing the medicine. It is important for
everyone to note that, although the regulations have been set aside, the
Medicines and Related Substances Act still specifies that no person may sell a
medicine according to a bonus system, a rebate system or any other incentive
scheme, such as discounts. For pharmacists and the consumer, this now creates an
environment similar to what was experienced in June, July and August this year.
The Rules relating to Pharmacy Practice, published by the Pharmacy Council on
17 December, reinforce the need for an appropriate dispensing fee. These rules
are enforceable and the pharmacist's professional activities will be judged
according to the criteria laid down in the 114 page document.
The benefit of the judgement for the consumer is that the separate
administration fee charged by pharmacists will no longer be necessary, as this
fee will now be incorporated into the price of the medicine as it was in the
past. Discussions with medical schemes must now take place, as there are many
variables that need to be considered in establishing the price that the schemes
are prepared to pay.
The PSSA hopes that manufacturers will voluntarily continue to charge the
Single Exit Price, which implements the principle of a transparent pricing
system. The PSSA and its members have always supported this.
The challenge for both the PSSA and the Department is to form an effective
partnership that will urgently finalise a set of regulations that deals with the
principles of a transparent pricing system and an appropriate dispensing fee.
The PSSA calls on pharmacists to continue to be responsible and professional
in pricing medicines. (Source: PSSA, 20 December 2004)