Pretoria - Pharmacists on Friday welcomed the publication of the dispensing fee for pharmacists in the Government Gazette, which comes into effect after years of frustration.
"(We are) satisfied that the process has been appropriate and that due consideration was given to submissions made to the pricing committee," the Pharmacy Stakeholders Forum's joint co-ordinator Sham Moodley said in a statement.
Moodley acknowledged the hard work put in by all interested parties in achieving an appropriate fee, after months of research and discussions.
In 2004 the pharmacists' dispensing fee was effectively decreased. Since 2005 it had remained at the same level, without even inflationary increases.
Moodley's fellow co-ordinator Ivan Kotz said the new dispensing fee introduced a tiered structure. Depending on the acquisition cost, one of four different formulas should be used to calculate the dispensing fee.
Draft regulations for comment were originally published in January 2004, and had been unsuccessfully revised a number of times.
In 2005 the Constitutional Court instructed the pricing committee to take into consideration input by interested parties, to ensure the final dispensing fee was just and equitable.
Moodley said this was considered essential so pharmacies would not be driven out of business. He encouraged medical schemes to pay the appropriate fee.
"We feel for those 600 pharmacies that closed because of inappropriate payments of the fee over the past five years."
The PSF believed consumers would now have legal protection from overcharging, and would know pharmacists had to calculate and indicate their dispensing fee according to a published procedure. The fee structure and dispensing fee regulations could be viewed on www.pssa.org.za.
The regulations require that a notice be displayed in every pharmacy to inform the public of the way the dispensing fee was determined.