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The Gauteng health department is calling for tenders for a proposed new plan aimed at reducing the burden on overloaded public hospital pharmacies by delivering chronic medication to patients at home, in old-age homes, to health care centres and to mobile units. Long queues and administrative hassles mean that collecting chronic medication is a lengthy and often frustrating process and discourages patients from complying with their treatment. This is of particular concern for patients being treated with antiretrovirals and for HIV-related illnesses such as tuberculosis, where drug resistance can be a problem. Amendments to the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act in 2003 require doctors to apply for a dispensing licence and limit the dispensing fee they are able to charge on medicines. When the bill was introduced, it caused an outcry from medical professionals, who argued that the limited mark-ups and compulsory licensing would discourage doctors from dispensing medicine and that it would ultimately be the patients who would suffer. Recently, dispensing fees were back in the limelight as SAMA called for an urgent meeting with the Department of Health to discuss the new dispensing fees published in December's Government Gazette. The National Convention on Dispensing Chairman, Dr Norman Mabasa, questioned the rationale behind setting doctors' dispensing fees below those of pharmacists, as it did not take into account the costs of providing drugs to patients. Mr Mabasa said it also discouraged some doctors from dispensing, thus indirectly limiting access to medicines.

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Title Annotation:South Africa
Author:Bateman, Chris
Publication:CME: Your SA Journal of CPD
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Feb 1, 2011
Words:243
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