Retailer hails ruling allowing pharmacists to prescribe HIV drugs

Leading pharmaceutical retailer Dis-Chem has welcomed a groundbreaking decision by the Pretoria High Court granting pharmacists the authority to manage and prescribe medication to patients suffering from HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

The ruling comes after the court dismissed a review application by the Independent Practitioners Association on Tuesday, upholding the South African Pharmacy Council’s (SAPC) pharmacy-initiated management of antiretroviral treatment (PIMART) initiative.

According to the ruling, the PIMART programme, aligned with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for enhancing medicine accessibility, empowers pharmacists to take a proactive role in combating these devastating diseases.


The high court’s decision underscores the significance of extending primary healthcare services to prevent and treat HIV and TB while granting the public the option to consult pharmacists for treatment.

Tanya Ponter, executive manager at Dis-Chem, expressed enthusiasm for the court’s ruling, stating: “We applaud any move which will expand access to HIV services.

“This decision ties into our healthcare ambitions and focus to provide integrated primary healthcare to a greater number of consumers aimed at increasing access, reducing cost, and delivering better health outcomes for more South Africans.”

Ponter emphasized the role of primary healthcare as the “front door” to the healthcare system, with pharmacies ideally positioned to serve as a fundamental entry point to first-line treatment protocols and the broader healthcare ecosystem.

She highlighted that Dis-Chem has already trained over 400 pharmacists and nursing practitioners under the PIMART programme, who are committed to abiding by the expanded scope of practice and competency standards outlined by the SAPC.

The significance of this decision resonates with patients who value accessibility, convenience, and affordability in healthcare management.


Ponter explained that the expanded availability of effective day-to-day healthcare services is poised to enhance the management of existing conditions like HIV and improve the prevention of more severe illnesses.

 

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