Are online pharmacies in South Africa inevitable?
Amazon has just acquired Pillpack, an online pharmacy in the US. In East Africa, a company called BiowinPharma is negotiating with Ministries of Health to deliver prescription drugs online. So when will South Africa permit online pharmacies? The Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa (PSSA) is not in favour, pointing out that pharmacies provide not only the drugs but also advice on how to use the medicine, for example, when taking a number of drugs what counter-interactions are possible, etc. However, in the USA where e-pharmacies are a success, consumers have benefited from convenience, price, and anonymity. Rural areas in particular have benefitted. Consumers are automatically warned when their scripts need renewal and for chronic illnesses doctors can provide scripts directly to the e-pharmacy. However, the strong lobbying of the PSSA is likely to hold back any legislation which would threaten the pharmacists’ monopoly in SA.
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