Jul 4 2004
The South African Department of Health welcomes the decision of the Pretoria High Court to dismiss with costs the application by the Affordable Medicines Trust, the National Convention on Dispensing and Dr Norman Mabasa to have provisions of the Medicine and Related Substances Act on licences for dispensing of medicine set aside.
This is a major victory for government's effort to ensure the transformation of health services and patient safety. The judgement vindicates the validity of government endeavour to ensure the quality dispensing services and the supply of safe medicine.
It is a victory for patients and the general public that deserve quality health services.
The Act, which requires all health professionals (excluding pharmacists) to have a licence to dispense medicines from the Department of Health, becomes effective at midnight tonight.
From tomorrow, health professionals that do not have a licence are not allowed to dispense.
Members of the public are advised to check if their doctor or health professional is licensed to dispense before accepting the medicine. Where a doctor is not licensed, a patient must request a prescription which can be taken to the nearest pharmacy to get medicine. Public health facilities can also be used to access healthcare.
We also appeal to doctors who want to dispense, to complete the dispensing course and comply with the Act to get licences. The Department commits itself to processing applications expeditiously and to upholding the law and the judgment of the court.
The onus is on doctors and other health professionals who want to dispense to complete the dispensing course as soon as possible and apply for the licences.
Once again, the Medicine Act has stood the test of our judicial system. We are confident that despite the opposition to transformation of the health sector, we will be able to achieve the objectives of this Act - to make affordable quality medicine available to all South Africans.