Impact of new medicine pricing regulations on independent community pharmacies : a KwaZulu-Natal study.
Pharmaceuticals are a crucial component of delivering healthcare, hence regulating pharmaceutical markets is a complex issue involving dynamic interplay of multiple actors. The South African healthcare industry is plagued with past problems and new ones created by cumbersome legislation, changing economic conditions and rapid cost escalation. The core objectives of the 2004 medicines pricing legislation were; effective care and use of resources; high quality services and responsiveness; accessibility and affordability of medicines for consumers. This study explores the impact of the new medicine pricing regulations on independent community pharmacies in KwaZulu-Natal, wherein 115 out of a total of 364 independent pharmacies participated. The main aim was to determine the number of pharmacies that closed and the emerging trends in this sector by qualitatively and quantitatively analyzing the legislation, policy implementation and its impact on various stakeholders. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews; a survey questionnaire and document analysis. The study revealed that, more consultation was needed for a sustainable dispensing fee since between 72 and 83 pharmacies had closed in KZN from 2003 to 2009; due to them being uneconomical. Tools used to illustrate legislative impact were Porter’s value chain, Force-Field analysis and the Fish-Bone diagram. The emerging trends underscored government’s need to provide a democratic environment conducive to small business growth, with the recommendation that policy makers strategically respond to the real world in which health sector reforms must be implemented.