Articles

Ethical issues around access to over-the-counter medicines in South Africa

N Padayachee, A D Rothberg, J Gardner, I Truter, N Butkow

Abstract


South Africa is engaged in a heated debate around how to achieve universal healthcare (UHC) that will be accessible to all, affordable for the country and of high quality. Essentially, this discourse frames UHC as a right, yet there is strong evidence that certainly in the privately funded sector, healthcare functions as a commodity within a failing market system. Research has shown these failures to affect the highest cost elements of hospital, specialist and chronic disease care. In this review, we show that commoditisation also affects the primary healthcare market, specifically in the area of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. The segment represents a multibillion-rand contribution to the economy, with stakeholders – ranging from government, pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacists to medical schemes and their members – driving the costs of OTC medicines up rather than down.


Authors' affiliations

N Padayachee, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

A D Rothberg, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

J Gardner, Department of Bioethics, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

I Truter, Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

N Butkow, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2019;12(2):71-75. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2019.v12i2.00676

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-12-17
Date published: 2019-12-17

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