|dc.description.abstract||Health is a fundamental human right. Access to health care, which includes providing a
population with safe, effective, good quality drugs at the least possible cost, is a prerequisite to
realising that right. Drugs or medicines play a fundamental role in the effectiveness, efficiency
and responsiveness of health care systems. Drugs also constitute a major recurrent expense in
both state-run and private sector health care. To ensure that health care workers prescribe the
most cost-effective drugs through the essential drugs list, training, as well as evaluation and
monitoring systems must be regarded as important elements of containing costs.
Pharmaceutical benefit management programmes such as pharmacoeconomics, drug utilisation
review (DUR), evidence-based medicine and disease management have emerged as tools to
ensure cost-effective selection and use of drugs, particularly for chronic diseases. These
managed care tools are often investigated to determine whether new technologies or
interventions are appropriate and have "value".
Affordable prices of medicines, on their own, however, do not ensure access to medicines. Also
important are reliable procurement, distribution and storage systems, and appropriately trained
personnel to manage these components of drug management. Poorly regulated drug supply
systems can have serious consequences such as antibiotic resistance, problems with safety or
quality and most importantly wastage, as it is believed that a significant proportion of drugs
purchased by the state in South Africa find their way into the private sector market through a
The general objective of this study was to review and analyse the cost and medicine usage of the
"top twenty" pharmaceutical products according to the monthly pharmaceutical purchasing
reports of the Department of Health in the North West Province.
The research can be classified as retrospective and quantitative. The data used for the analysis
were obtained over a two-year study period (1 Apr 2000 - 28 Feb 2002) from the private
provider operating the medical stores in the North West Province.
The results of the empirical investigation, showed the total number of "top twenty" products
appearing during the study period amounted to 460 different products having a total purchasing
cost of R 66,263,674.51 representing 37.2% (n = R 178,163,061.50) of all pharmaceutical
products purchased during the two-year period.
Through analysis it was found, when classified according the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical
(ATC) therapeutic main group, antihypertensives had the highest quantity purchased for year one
(20.69%; n = 134,515,640) with cough and cold preparations revealing the highest purchasing
quantity for year two (40.55%; n = 103,567,031) of all "top twenty" pharmaceuticals during the
Antibacterials for systemic use presented with the highest cost percentages for both years,
representing 20.68% (n = R35, 568,221.31) and 16.72% (n = R 31,370,435.51) respectively.
Hydrochlorothiazide presented with the highest purchasing quantity for both years when
classified according to chemical substance with, Methyldopa having the highest purchasing cost
for year one followed by vaccine Hib-DTP 10 dose vial (Haemophilus influenzae type B
vaccine-diphtheria, pertusis and tetanus vaccine) for year two. Furthermore it was also found
that the majority of the "top twenty" products were in the oral dosage form. Finally it was
concluded that drugs used in the treatment of hypertension and cardiac failure were the most
utilised in comparison to other "top twenty" products during the study period. Possible
misappropriation based on the defined daily dose of the "top twenty" products might have
In completion of this study, recommendations for future research were made.||