South African drug manufacturers should be challenged on the prices of life-saving drugs, the Aids Law Project (ALP) said on Thursday.
It was responding to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's statement this week that South Africa should buy antiretrovirals (ARVs) from whatever source, inside or outside the country, that could guarantee the lowest prices.
The ALP said government was signalling that it intended to challenge private sector profiteering from the sale of essential life-saving drugs.
Agrees with minister
It agreed with the minister that claims that this would result in job losses was a form of blackmail. "It is simply not true," the ALP said."Over recent years the South African pharmaceutical industry has grown significantly as a result of the production and sale of ARV medicines."
Aspen Pharmacare, for example, had in 2009 reported that operating profit from its South African business increased from R484 million to R806 million. Aspen was the largest supplier of pharmaceuticals to government.
Pricing should be challenged
"In South Africa and internationally drug manufacturers need to be challenged on the pricing of life-saving drugs," the ALP said.
"South Africa will soon be treating more than a million people with ARVs and this will make drug affordability ever more critical." - (Sapa, April 2010)