Has the increase in the availability of generic drugs lowered the price of cardiovascular drugs in South Africa?
Background: This research focuses on pharmaceutical competition in South Africa where concurrent pricing legislation is being implemented without monitoring the consequences on generic drug competition and usage.
Objective: To examine the relationship between originator drug prices and the number of generic brands within the cardiovascular class of drugs and to compare South African prices with international reference prices.
Method: Data on private sector drug prices was sourced from the South African Medicine Price Registry. The relationship between the median proportional price and the number of brands in the therapeutic class was analysed using correlation analysis. International reference prices were obtained from the Management Sciences for Health International Drug Price Indicator Guide (2012 edition).
Results: A weak correlation between originator and generic drug prices and the number of available brands was observed, the exception being diuretic drugs. The median prices per strength of the originator generic were still higher than the most expensive generic version manufactured by any other company, the exception being telmisartan. Comparison of price ratios between the originator drug, lowest priced generic and international reference price values revealed that the originator drug prices had a median price ratio of 20.99 (interquartile range 7.31e53.46) and the lowest priced generics had a median price ratio of 4.28 (interquartile range 2.10e8.47).
Conclusion: Increased generic competition is not a predictor of lower drug prices. The study also concludes that the current South African pharmaceutical policies have not yet achieved the lowest prices for drugs when compared internationally.