PHARMA Dynamics, the sixth-largest generic drug maker in the country, has launched Patient Assist, an initiative aimed at helping patients reduce their medicine costs.
The company’s two-week-old initiative pays for the first 26 percent of the dispensing fee up to a maximum of R26 for all Pharma Dynamics products that will be dispensed across the country.
It will specifically target the approximately 5 million people who are pensioners or working but are uninsured.
Paul Anley, the managing director of Pharma Dynamics, said on Friday that the company was trying through this initiative to expand access to medicine beyond those people who were on medical aid.
“This will be for all our drugs, which include a range of cardiovascular products, central nervous system drugs, epileptic drugs and other chronic medication.
“Research shows that more than 50 percent of people taking medicines are (doing so) for cardiovascular (conditions).
“We are aware that while our range is extensive, it does not cover all therapeutic areas, which is why we are urging other companies to also introduce this programme. A lot of the multinationals in the country already have Patient Assist in the US, why not do it here as well?” asked Anley.
While Anley said the primary objective was to increase access to medicines, he conceded that it was also aimed at increasing volumes and sales. Turnover for this year was expected to be R275 million.
“If you increase the volumes, the stronger the brands become,” Anley said.
Forms are available through general practitioners, the company’s website and a call centre but membership is activated at a retail pharmacy.
Anley said in the first two weeks, just more than 100 applications had been received .
Anley said there were no limits on the patient’s card or the number of line items that would be subsidised.
Ivan Kotze, the executive director for the Pharmaceutical Society of SA (PSSA), said the initiative was good for the consumer. He, however, called for a revision of the system used to determine the single exit price (SEP) for drugs.
“The objective of the SEP was to lower medicines cost. It was not to have manufacturers make unreasonable profits to the point that they can afford to subsidise medicines.
“This (Patient Assist) is good for the consumer but the SEP system is flawed. Consumers should not benefit only when a manufacturer feels like it,” said Kotze.
The SEP is the price that a pharmacy pays a manufacturer to buy medicines. It was introduced by the Department of Health in 2004 in an effort to bring down medicine prices.