Medical schemes’ growing expenditure on medicines is largely driven by higher prices, not because people are sicker and using more products, says the latest Mediscor review. Mediscor is an authoritative medical benefit management company that helps schemes control their pharmaceutical budgets. It publishes an annual assessment of medicine expenditure trends. Its point about the impact of medicine prices on medical scheme expenditure comes at a critical time, as the pharmaceutical industry is lobbying the health department for an extraordinary price increase to offset increased import costs in the face of a weak rand. Medical schemes have countered the industry’s appeal, saying they cannot afford further medicine price hikes in 2018. Price increases Drug manufacturers usually get one price increase a year for private sector sales, but there is scope for the health minister to allow an extra hike, as he did in 2016 when the rand weakened. Mediscor’s latest review shows medicine expend...

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