The report released from the Competition Commission’s investigation into price fixing allegations against pharmaceutical companies following concerns raised by Advocates for Breast Cancer, the Cancer Alliance, the Cancer Association of South Africa, and Section27 received widespread media enquiries.
Information in the possession of the Commission “confirms that breast cancer treatment is unaffordable” in South Africa and many medical aid schemes refused to pay the treatment based on cost. For example, a 12-month course of Roche’s Herceptin in the private sector cost over R500 000, or more if a higher dosage was required. As a result of exorbitant prices, most breast cancer patients in both the private and public sectors could not get treatment.
The Commission was also looking into allegations that companies were protecting the monopoly position by getting around patent laws by patenting “new” versions of an existing patented product with minor changes or just a different name, to delay the introduction of generic versions of the same medicine into the market.