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New laws set max limit to how much pharmacies can charge customers

| Legislation

New laws signed in by the government will now fix an upper limit to the dispensing fees charged by pharmacists.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoeledi officially signed in the new amendment to the medicines and related substances Act on Friday (27 January) with the aim of creating transparency and accountability between pharmacies and its customers.


In South Africa, the provision of drugs or medicines – as set out properly on a lawfulprescription – can only be filled by a registered pharmacist, veterinarian, dentist or member of the medical profession.

As a result, pharmacists have come under incredible public scrutiny over the past few years following claims that many were overcharging for dispensing.

The new amendment now prescribes that pharmacists must calculate their dispensing fee as follows:

  • Where the single exit price of a medicine or scheduled substance is less than R97.06, the dispensing fee can’t exceed R9.25 plus 46% of the single exit price in respect of that medicine or scheduled substance;
  • Where the single exit price of a medicine or scheduled substance is greater than or equal to R97.06 but less than R258.88, the dispensing fee can’t exceed R22.50 plus 33% of the single exit price in respect of that medicine or scheduled substance;
  • Where the single exit price of a medicine or scheduled substance is greater than or equal to R258.88 but less than R906.10, the dispensing fee can’t exceed R69.00 plus 15% of the single exit price in respect of that medicine or scheduled substance;
  • Where the single exit price of a medicine or scheduled substance is greater than or equal to R906.10, the dispensing fee can’t exceed R160.00 plus 5% of the single exit price in respect of that medicine or scheduled substance.
  • The dispensing fees charged and single exit prices must be clearly indicated on an invoice to the customer.

 

The above prices exclude VAT, with the ‘single exit price’ referring to the maximum price that a medicine can be charged at in South Africa.

The Act further provides that the Minister of Health can adjust the rates on an annual basis provided it meets with the current costs of medicine and current inflation rates.

In addition, the new regulations require pharmacists – by means of a clearly displayed notice in the pharmacy – to inform members of the public the maximum fee structure used by such pharmacist in order to determine their dispensing fee.

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