Competition Commission: High prices limit access to cancer medication

The Commission has launched an investigation into pharmaceutical companies Aspen, Pfizer and Roche for excessive pricing of cancer medication.


JOHANNESBURG – In the wake of an investigation into the alleged excessive pricing of cancer medication in the country, the Competition Commission says it hopes medical schemes will see the watchdog as a shining light, and that cancer medication is about saving lives.

It says it's aware that breast cancer treatment is unaffordable in South Africa, and many medical schemes refuse to pay for the medication based on cost.

The Competition Commission says it has identified the pharmaceutical sector as a priority in its enforcement efforts due to the likely negative impact of anti-competitive conduct on consumers, especially the poor and vulnerable.

It says breast cancer is the leading form of cancer affecting women in South Africa and as a result of exorbitant prices, most women are unable to afford medication.

The commission says it has reason to believe that pharmaceutical companies Aspen, Roche and Pfizer are involved in alleged excessive pricing of these lifesaving drugs.

It says the matter is of grave importance and it will treat it with urgency.

Meanwhile, Aspen has reacted to the announcement, saying it will co-operate fully.