From a pharmaceutical industry point of view, the NHI plan could represent significant growth opportunities. Luciano Marques,
CEO and country president of Novartis South Africa, says, "The implementation of NHI will broaden the access of medicines
to more of South Africa's citizens."
"Only 8 million people are currently covered by private healthcare insurance. An additional 42 million people can have more
access to medicines through NHI. Broadening access to healthcare is closely aligned with Novartis' mission of caring and curing,"
Others from the industry are more cautious. Val Beaumont, executive director of Innovative Medicines of South America (IMSA),
says, "Theoretically, South Africa is going to be a much larger market for medicines when we move to universal coverage with
equal access to healthcare. However, in the same context, there are going to be new rules, new policies, and new requirements.
Therefore we need to make sure that there is an opportunity for innovative medicines there, as clearly we expect a lot of
pressure on prices in that environment."
Aspen: South Africa’s Leading Generics Provider
Richard de Chastelain, country division head of Bayer Healthcare South Africa, says that it is too early to give a prognosis
on what NHI will mean for the pharmaceutical industry. "These are exciting times, but for the time being, we have to take
NHI out of the equation as we do not know what that model is," he explains.
Similarly, Vicki St Quintin, chief operations officer of the Pharmaceutical Industry Association of South Africa (PIASA),
says that the jury is still out. "We hope that the NHI will ultimately lead to a greater access to medicines and therefore
greater benefits to the patients, while retaining access to innovative medicine. In other words, we would be very concerned
if the system introduced would involve an 'always cheapest' type of approach, restricting choice for the patient."
John Fagan, general manager of Sanofi South Africa