Prescribing patterns of antiretroviral drugs in a section of the private health care sector of South Africa

  • D Scholtz
  • M S Lubbe
  • JHP Serfontein
  • D Rakumakoe
  • R Smit
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, antiretroviral drugs, South African private health sector, retrospective drug, utilisation, medicine cost


The general objective of this study was to investigate the prescribing patterns and cost of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in the private health care sector in South Africa by using a medicine claims database. A quantitative, retrospective drug utilisation review was performed on data retrieved from 2001, 2002 and 2004 records. Antiretroviral drugs represented 0.38% (n = 1 475 380) for 2001, 0.72% (n = 2 076 236) for 2002, and 1.68% (n = 2 595 254) for 2004 of all studied prescriptions. The total cost of the ARV drugs represented 1.31% (R379 708 489) for 2001, 3.03% (R601 350 325) for 2002, and increased to 5.25% (R661 223 146) for 2004 of all drugs claimed. All ARV medicine items claimed during 2001 (n = 9 796) and 2002 (n = 35 271) were innovator products. Only 5.23% (n=5 329) of all the ARV medicine items (n = 101 938) claimed during 2004 were generic products. The average cost per ARV medicine item for 2004 increased from R317.93 (SD = R190.80) for the period January to April to R369.20 (SD = R219.50) for the period May to August, and decreased to R324.79 (SD = R212.48) for the period September to December and resulted in a cost saving of R41 044.35 for the period May to August versus September to December. Both the prevalence and cost of ARV drug therapy increased from 2001 to 2002. The prevalence increased from 2002 to 2004, but the cost decreased during 2004. The decrease in the cost of ARV drug therapy is probably a result of the implementation of the new pricing regulations in May 2004.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; antiretroviral drugs; South African private health sector; retrospective drug; utilisation; medicine cost

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 11 (4) 2006: pp. 57-70

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848