Uptake of pharmaceutical products in Zimbabwe has drastically gone down, raising fears that some patients could be defaulting, a situation that is likely to complicate their medical condition, 263Chat has learnt.
Pharmaceutical Wholesalers’ Association chairman Mr Kudakwashe Chapfika attributed the drop in pharmaceutical sales to the current economic challenges which has reduced spending capacity of people.
“Consumer spending at retail level has reduced markedly due to the worsening economic situation and revenues have tumbled, thereby affecting the whole pharmaceutical value chain with reduced uptake of pharmaceutical products,” said Mr Chapfika.
A snap survey by 263Chat in Harare showed that some patients were resorting to buying medicine from neighboring countries such as South Africa and Zambia where the prices are relatively cheaper.
Some traders who frequent South Africa or Zambia are even bringing over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as cough syrups and pain killers into the country to sell them on the informal market.
In addition, some foreign-based individuals are using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to link with Zimbabwean patients, selling them drugs from abroad at much cheaper prices.
Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) president Mr Portifa Mwendera attributed the decline of medicine uptake to failure by medical aid societies to match the current cost of medicines.
“We have noticed that the consumption of pharmaceutical services has declined significantly over the last quarter mainly due to affordability issues,” said Mwendera.
“The healthcare funders have failed to match the increase in healthcare costs, particularly the price of medicines ,and their reimbursement rates are very low rates leading to increased shortfalls and out of pocket settlements for medicines,”Mwendera said.
A local pharmacist who spoke on condition of anonymity said most patients are now buying short-term supplies instead of the whole prescribed course.
“Patients are buying supplies for just a few days to a week. a patient can choose to buy only three pills to use when the the condition is serious and default the rest of the time. Some are even forgoing medicines like pain killers and cough mixtures to save money and only purchase antibiotics when they have infections,” she said.