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Frost & Sullivan: Lack of Proper Price Regulation for Pharmaceuticals
Date:11/12/2012

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Given the high burden of Sub-Saharan Africa's infectious diseases, improvements in healthcare systems are crucial to addressing these underlying issues. A lack of proper price regulations for essential medicine, however, remains a key challenge, threatening accessibility of medicine and continuing to place strain on out-of-pocket payments for pharmaceuticals.

Prices vary significantly within many Sub-Saharan Africa countries, as pharmaceutical products move down the value chain. Wholesalers and distributors in Zimbabwe for instance, add mark-ups of as much as 43% for branded and generic drugs, while innovator drugs are marked up as high as 45%. The same situation is evident in Malawi. Retail pharmacies add price mark-ups of approximately 35% for innovator and branded generic drugs, while generic drugs are marked up by an average of 25%.

"Given the high reliance on out-of-pocket expenditure for healthcare (approximately 72.4% for the Sub-Saharan Africa region) the ultimate burden of these high drug prices rests on private consumers who have to spend more for their medication," stated Frost & Sullivan's Healthcare Research Analyst Kudzai Moyo.

Health expenditure per capita in Malawi and Zimbabwe is $19.00 and $78.60, respectively, and any significant increase in the price of pharmaceuticals down the value chain has adverse effects on access to medication. Pharmaceuticals procurement by governments may, however, be insulated from these high price margins. Favourable prices are negotiated with manufacturers by leveraging on monopsonistic buying power to set prices below more liberalised prices, or alternatively if competitive bids are used.

"In contrast, the Mauritian government has imposed profit controls to manage spending on pharmaceuticals. A maximum allowable profit margin of 9% is set for pharmaceutical wholesalers and distributors, while retail pharmacies are allowed a max
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