May 7, 2003
The Shoprite Group Of Companies welcomed amendments to the Pharmacy Act that came into effect on Friday, 2 May 2003, which allows non-pharmacists to own pharmacy businesses.
Chief Executive Whitey Basson said Shoprite would apply for licenses without delay with a view to having a combination of business models applied in its stores. This will vary from employing pharmacists to creating franchising and joint venture opportunities.
“We have in the past four years financed and provided accounting and management services to an independent pharmacist to establish four dispensary outlets trading successfully under the brand name Medi+Rite.
“We have also conducted our own in-depth research into pharmaceutical products suitable for the mass retail market, distribution channels, and the investigation of the administration of medical aid schemes in terms of payment, as well as control systems with its own operations.
“Suppliers have been scrutinised, indicating good prospects while various store and merchandise layouts have also been designed. International research has clearly shown that consumers prefer the International model, where the pharmacy forms a department within the store. Not only will this model provide better service and more convenience, it is also more cost-effective for the retailer, Basson said.
He added that the new legislation is good news for South African consumers. “It now allows the Shoprite Group with its 60% stake of the mass consumer market to extend its product range to include a full range of pharmaceutical products at the lowest prices to consumers countrywide by discounting the professional fees.
“The Shoprite Group serves 9.8 million consumers throughout the country, including rural areas. These consumers do not have the time or means to shop around and prefer a one-stop shop for all their purchases. Rural consumers will benefit enormously by essential medicines becoming more accessible.
“Although the legislative process is not complete, we commend Government on the work done thus far as it will not only create job opportunities for pharmacists without the capital to establish their own businesses, but more importantly, make low priced medicine more easily available to the mass market.
“We do not expect that the second leg of the new health care legislation which deals with pricing will have a negative influence on the profitability of retailing drugs as it will likely focus on maximum rather than minimum prices”, he said.
Basson concluded that he trusts the main focus of the Act will be to create competition to bring lower medical costs to the consumer and not to protect vested interest as most regulated structures have done in the past.