The health department is rightly proud of the transparent medicine pricing system it introduced 20 years ago that brought unprecedented scrutiny to the cost of drugs sold in the private sector. But it has nothing to boast about regarding the process it uses to set medicine price increases, which remain shrouded in secrecy.

SA’s medicine pricing regulations oblige pharmaceutical manufacturers to sell medicines at the same price to all their private sector customers regardless of the volume purchased, and control the markups that are added at each step of the supply chain, from factory gate to pharmacy checkout. Price increases are tightly controlled, and usually announced by the health minister once a year. ..

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