The Department of Health has revived its attempt to close legal loopholes which it says allows drug makers to incentivise pharmacies and medical schemes to promote their products, contrary to the spirit of existing regulations. The growth in incentives is an unintended consequence of the medicine pricing regulations introduced in 2004. These stipulate that pharmaceutical manufacturers must sell medicines at the same prices to all their customers, regardless of the volume purchased. These regulations control all the mark-ups added along the supply chain, from factory gate to pharmacy checkout. In a bid to crack down on pharmaceutical companies that have found legal ways to get around these rules to boost their sales, the Department of Health last week published an updated set of draft regulations to section 18a of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, proposing a ban on bonuses, data fees and a host of other incentive schemes. The revised version fine-tunes draft regulations publ...

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